Let it be sparkling - not noisy
The rising prices dampen the spirit of youth and rob the festival of its colour
Flower pots are an eternal fun for children.
Deepavali or Diwali, the festival of lights, signifies the triumph of the good over the evil. It dispels darkness and brings light into the lives of the people. It is one festival, which cuts across barriers of religion and age. It is not Hindus alone, but also Muslims, Christians and followers of other faiths join in the fireworks display on this day.
Children and youth eagerly look forward to Deepavali. In fact, they begin to burst crackers well ahead of the festival. The festivities continue for four days and conclude with Nagulachavithi, which falls on the fourth day after Deepavali. While the festival is synonymous with fireworks, exchange of sweets, wearing new clothes and purchase of gold ornaments add to the glitter.
Legend has it that the festival is observed to celebrate the slaying of the demon, Narakasura, by Sri Krishna's consort Satyabhama. Lakshmi Puja is also performed on the day. Business people open new account books.
Mythology apart, the bursting of crackers and burning of fireworks in the rural areas during November is believed to act as a pesticide to protect the standing crop. The smoke generated on the day acts as a repellent of mosquitoes in cities and towns.
The spiralling prices of fireworks has resulted in the festivities going down with each passing year. While it was a common sight to watch children and youth playing with crackers and fireworks right from dusk to late in the night, a couple of decades ago, today, only the rich can afford to buy fireworks to last for so many hours.
Old timers recall with nostalgia, "We used to get a whole lot of fireworks for Rs.100 and almost every house was literally a mini fireworks shop. The youth used to vie with one another in making rockets (Tara juvvalu) and flower-pots (Chichibuddulu) at home. Today, we can't expect to get so many items for even ten times that amount."
Photos: K.R. Deepak
BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL: Children enjoying a "Vishnu chakram".
A `self-service' counter for the sale of fireworks has been opened at the Super Bazaar, for the first time in its history. The buyers can pick and choose whatever they want. This reduces delays and is expected to improve the sales considerably, says its Managing Director, V. Sambasiva Rao.
The bazaar gets its stock from Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu, through its area distributors. The maximum sales until last year was only Rs.10 lakhs. "This year, we have doubled the sales target and hope to achieve it. We sell only the `Ayyan', brand known for its high quality, he says.
A discount of 70 per cent on the marked price is being given on the fireworks sold at the Super Bazaar. "We are planning to get a permanent explosives licence from Chennai for opening of a regular fireworks counter. This would be useful to those who require fireworks for special occasions like weddings and other functions," says Mr. Sambasiva Rao.
The loose sales of ingredients used in the preparation of Tara juvvas, flower pencils (Mathabulu) and flower-pots have also picked up better than last year. "The sales were dull last year due to rains preceding the festival. This year, the sales are good with buyers turning up in large numbers," says J.V.V.S.S.S. Shankar, whose family has been involved in the sale of potassium nitrate, aluminium foil, sulphur and lime near Kurupam Market since 1949.
"We sell the ingredients in the right proportion. The buyers should mix 1 kg. of potassium nitrate with ½ kg. aluminium foil, 300 grams of sulphur and 125 grams of lime for making the pots. The ratio can be changed proportionately depending on the quantity required. Improper mixing will result in the fireworks not burning properly, " he warns buyers.
Shankar, who had made it to the nationals in power lifting, has quit his job in the Port, to continue the family tradition.
Mandugundu Seetharamaiah of Anakapalle is another person, whose family has been in the business of making and selling fireworks for three generations now. The present Seetharamaiah's grandfather had started the business, which was successfully carried on by his son and now his grandson. Interestingly, all the three have adopted the same name.
They specialise in making huge flower pots, big rockets and flower pencils, which are used in weddings, public meetings and to celebrate election victories. They had organised pyrotechnic displays in Mumbai, Bangalore, Mangalore and Shimoga besides Visakhapatnam.
"This year the Deepavali sales are encouraging. We supply to the Super Bazaar apart from other retailers in the district. People come to Anakapalle from different places to pick up stocks from us," says Seetharamaiah.
Lack of concern for safety, carelessness and greed are marring the festival and bringing darkness into many families in the country every year. Already several lives have been lost in pre-festival mishaps this year. These accidents were invariably caused by violation of the safety norms.
The sale of fireworks at houses is not allowed. Even in shops, a separate enclosure with a rear exit and a barrel of water and four buckets of sand, should be kept ready as a preventive measure, according to the Fire Safety Rules. A trader cannot deal with more than 50 kg. of explosives (i.e., fireworks which emanate sound while bursting) at any given point of time, says the Regional Fire Officer, G. Pratap Reddy.
It goes without saying that the rules are violated most of the time. This year, 250 licences have been issued for opening of retail fireworks outlets on LIC Road, Jail Road, M.V.P. Colony, National Highway No. 5, Kancharapalem, Marripalem, Peda Gantyada, etc.
`Gamana', an environmental protection organisation, has appealed to the people not to cause sound pollution in silent zones like hospitals. The sound from crackers and bombs can have an adverse impact on children and old people.
The organisation has conducted awareness programmes in schools in this regard, according to its coordinator, M. Yugandhar Reddy. As per the judgment of the Supreme Court, the bursting of crackers and bombs could be done only between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on the Deepavali day. The production, sale and use of crackers which emit more than 125 decibels have also been banned.
May this Deepavali dispel darkness and at the same time ensure that our joy did not cause inconvenience to others!
B. MADHU GOPAL
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