Friday, November 5, 2010


Globally, this October-November-December period is a festival time. Be it Diwali here in India, Halloween in USA, the Horse Festival in Morocco or Solstice in Egypt, most people across the world have reasons to celebrate. And animals haven't been left out of it either!
So I thought of a festive offer for the festive season.My upcoming blogs (including this one) would look at how animals are connected to these festivals-how they have been impacted or how they are an integral part of the fanfare involved. I would be calling this my "festive pack".
It is Diwali -the festival of lights today. It is a popular festival of the Hindus that celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama after 14 years of forest exile. The day is honoured by lighting diyas, candles, bursting crackers and distributing sweets among relatives, friends and other well-wishers. It is that much awaited, happy day for Indians barring some. For pet and stray animals, it is the most dreaded day of the year.

The high decibel and continuous loud sounds of the crackers are a source of great discomfort for them.  Animals like cats and dogs have sharp ears that are tuned to detect the faintest possible sound. This special ability acts like a blessing in disguise for them during Diwali, when the sound of crackers is greatly magnified to their ears. It creates much panic and anxiety among them. Animals on the street may panic and run here and there in utter confusion and injure themseves. Birds aren't safe in the sky either, as they may be hit and even killed by a flying and burning rocket cracker.

Some do it deliberately too, that is, use Diwali as an excuse to frighten animals:
"In many areas people play the most inhuman game of tying firecrackers on
dogs and donkeys' tails and letting them loose, watching the fun while the
animals run around panic-stricken and ultimately burn themselves," reveals
Shakuntala Majumdar, President of Thane Society for Prevention to Cruelty Against Animals (courtesy: Karmayog)
Diwali is the festival of lights, but it is not done when the environment gets affected adversely because of it. Lighting diyas, candles and decorating rangolis beautifully  retain the essence of the festival. I believe that bursting crackers has traditionally been part of the festivities and it wouldn't make sense to put a sudden full stop to it. But at least we can have limits to it as to having a time restriction for bursting crackers, not bursting crackers with high decibel sounds and ensuring that there are no stray animals in the vicinity before using fire crackers.

With certain precautions, it is possible to take care of pets during Diwali, but for strays, individuals and groups at the society level have to work hand in hand, to make it more comfortable and safer for the street animals.

However, Diwali has definitely not been a nightmare for some other animals. In the Lucknow Zoo, in Uttar Pradesh in India, animals were treated to special diets to celebrate Diwali. The diets were designed specially keeping in mind, the animal concerned. For instance, carnivores like tigers were treated to tandoori chicken and herbivores like deer and giraffes were given bananas mixed with fruit salad.In contrast to their counterparts in other parts of India, Diwali was a happy time for the Lucknow Zoo animals.

“It would be really good as animals would get a chance to get special treatment on the festival. In fact, such special diets should be given to the animals on every festival,” Geetanjali Sinha, who lives near the zoo, told IANS. (courtesy:Thaiindian News)
Anti-cracker campaigns were also carried out in the area with the threat to punish any offender under the Wildlife Protection Act. 

This entire scenario is like viewing two sides to the same coin.In both the situations, Diwali was being celebrated in an enjoyable manner, but with the difference in terms of sensitivity to the environment.Why don't we choose to then celebrate Diwali in an environment-friendly way, considering especially that we always have an option to do so?   

1 comment:

  1. just linked this article on my facebook account. it’s a very interesting article for all.

    Diwali Crackers