Diwali is a festival of lights as light is a metaphor for knowledge and darkness represents ignorance. Therefore this festival of lights symbolises the destruction, through knowledge, of all negative forces- wickedness, violence, lust, anger, envy, greed, bigotry, fear, injustice, oppression and suffering.
People distribute sweets among friends and relatives as a token of affection and bonhomie, visit each other’s homes and symbolically start a new year. But lately this festival has acquired enormous proportions and is seemingly the best time to grease the system. Economic activity is at its highest because Diwali allows people to accept gifts (it’s no longer considered bribe during these couple of days). What was traditionally an exchange of sweets (with negligible commercial value) has evolved into baskets full of gold biscuits of considerable sizes, iPods, gift vouchers of premium stores etc. And of course it’s Diwali so it’s all acceptable. Govt officers visit offices even on their off days because they would not want to displease their visitors by not being there and it’s wrong to deprive someone of the opportunity of giving gifts.
And talking of mythology, Lord Rama isn’t getting pleased with the fact that spend on crackers over a single night is over $2 Billion and the industry employs 90% child labour in unsafe and hostile conditions in the cracker industry. All put together by conservative estimates, Diwali costs are close to $10 Billion.
It’s been over 20 years now that i haven’t spent a single penny on crackers – instead I prefer to give monies to a few needy around me or to people who struggle to make their 2 ends meet. It gives me happiness and satisfaction that I haven’t burnt up money in crackers causing noise and environment pollution.
A nice thought provoking writing. Yes the system of exchanging gifts has taken a sinister form. The reason predominantly is corruption within the minds of people for which we blame the Govt. Conduct rules prohibit Govt. employees from receiving gifts beyond a certain value on any occasion, even on the wedding of a daughter.This was allowed in conduct rules only because of our cultural traditions of exchanging gifts as pointed out by you.But we misuse the provision and instead tend to bribe, for bad motives.It is time for the Govt to modify the exemption by prohibting Govt Officers from receiving gifts altogether. By the way you avoid bursting crackers by choice or you are scared of bursting noise.Ha-Ha