It’s a festive season; everywhere we can see sparkling lights, blooming flowers, and chirping birds. The human rush is also considerable for shopping, cleaning, and mopping their houses. Songs of Deusi-Bhailo fascinates everyone. However, in recent years, firecrackers have become a major Tihar attraction as well.
Although firecrackers are a huge cultural trend now, its significance is still unclear and debated. Some historians claim the use of fireworks goes back nearly 2000 years as an integral part of Hindu tradition. Likewise, some people alleged that Mughals were the pioneers of Diwali Firecrackers.
In the context of Nepal, however, firecrackers during Tihar are relatively new and can be heavily credited to influence from India coupled with mass production of fancy firecrackers from China. From the bright glow of sparklers to the thrill of bottle rockets and roman candles, the use of fireworks is widespread.
Though these loud noises and sparkle may rush adrenalin in the body for some seconds, the long-term environmental and health effects of firecrackers are extremely detrimental. Every year many people get injured or lose their life because of a huge mishap of firecrackers during Tihar. Issues of corneal damage or inner haemorrhage rise most often. Moreover, as children are the primary users of crackers, vulnerability and health risks are further multiplied.
The loud noises from crackers not only affects human but also have negative impacts on animals. While we enjoy the sound of bursts and sparkles of crackers, animals or pets have nightmares. Have you ever noticed behavioural changes in animals or your pets during Tihar?
Behaviours such as howling, shivering and excessive barking clearly indicates the direct impact. As per the study, some suffer from the loss of appetite and bladder control, some even gripped with temporary diarrhoea. Vet says that a sudden bright burst of light can result in partial or permanent blindness in some animals. As dogs and cats have highly sensitive hearing abilities, the loudness can be unbearable, causing psychological stresses.
Firecrackers have also shown to significantly increase the Particulate Matter (PM) level in the air. According to a 2018 research conducted in Delhi, the PM level was found to be 81% higher than normal days along with the increased concentration of metals, cations, and anions. The same study found that Noise pollution produced by firecrackers can surpass 100dBA, which is considered extremely fatal.
Similarly, the environment is also highly affected due to bursting of firecrackers. Firecrackers release toxic chemicals like Copper, Cadmium, Zinc, Magnesium, Sodium. If exposed, they result in respiratory problems, neurological disorder, anaemia, and vomiting. Similarly, oxides and dioxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen released impacts upon lungs causing respiratory illness.
Due to the increased knowledge about harms of firecrackers, and to minimize the harmful effects and accidents from firecrackers the government has imposed a ban on sale and use of firecrackers. Each year police strictly monitor and confiscate huge quantity of firecrackers. However, the sale and use of firecrackers are still rampant.
With all the patterns of impacts on health, environment, animals and nature, playing firecrackers is hazardous. Celebration of big festivals like that in a way that costs a big deal to the environment, animals and even human health, is not sustainable.
Festive seasons can be enjoyed in different ways as well. We can enjoy following culture and tradition, sharing good wishes with friends and families, and being respectful and kind to our pets. So let’s not pack our Tihar celebration in a single firecracker, but celebrate with lights, Diyo, music and loved ones. In the midst of the pandemic, we have to be a lot more concerned about safety issues as well.
ALL AND ALL, HAVE A SAFE TIHAR!!!
Written by: Rajita Budhathoki and Bipana Gurung