The Festival of Light

by K Jambulingam

The festival of light

The Festival of Light known as Deepavali is celebrated all over the country. Children eagerly wait for this great festival which falls on the third week of 0ctober or first week of November as per Hindu calendar. People wear new clothes and distribute sweets to friends and exchange greetings with their relatives. The woman folk exhibit their culinary skills preparing mouth watering dish for their families.

In the cities the Super Markets celebrate the festival in a grand manner. The Malls are decorated with colour lights and offer their merchandise with Buy one and take two free, slogans.

The educational institutions declare holidays for a week. We have too many holidays because of various religious people have their own customary festivals fall at different months and dates. The Government of India has to declare 18 Gaztted holidays and 6 restricted ones to accommodate the festivals of Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist and Muslim communities. Some states declare additional holidays on the birth anniversary of their great poets.

In the city, people burst crackers in huge quantity for two days. This leaves the streets with a large amount of half burnt papers. The intermittent showers makes the roads unsafe for commuters. The loud sound and sparkling lights keep the birds away from the trees and are spotted sparsely elsewhere.

My neighbours belong to Marwari Community. They are business people. They are scattered all over the country. They lend money to the needy for interest against gold ornaments or any article right from household utensils to automobiles. In a way they are like Jews portrayed by Shakespeare in the play ,The Merchant of Venice. There the comparison ends.

The Marvaries celebrate Deepavali in a grand scale. Their woman folk wear plenty of gold and silver ornaments on the festival day and always. They use plenty of ghee in their food and sweet preparations. Their houses are so well decorated to welcome Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth. They believe that Lakshmi will visit their homes during this festival. They do special poojas and open new book for accounting their business dealings.

During one of my language classes I was discussing with my students about the topic, The Festival I Celebrate, for essay writing. Some of the students throw light on the festival Deepavali telling the class the origin and how the festival is celebrated to mark the victory over evils citing Hindu mythological examples of Lord Krishnas victory over Naragasura ,the Demon king.

0n my part I told them that the crackers are brought from the factories that employ the child labour. Children of 10 to 15 years are made to work in most unhygienic surroundings. They are denied education and the happiness of childhood. Even though the child labour is prohibited and punishable under the law ; these factories employ them because they work for cheaper wages. Some argue that the children are made to work by their parents because of poverty.

At the end of the period, some boys and girls came to me and told that they are not going to buy and burst crackers during this deepavali since these are made by their less fortunate brothers and sisters who are denied education and happiness of childhood.

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