After the Diwali holiday, which is usually held in October, Hindus in India opened their wallets in a new way this year. Since the beginning of time, Hindus have been celebrating the day when Lord Rama beat Ravana, the king of the demons. This year, Indians are celebrating it with a big splurge on items such as TV sets and electronic goods, but there is also evidence that some inequalities remain for those living in rural areas, which were left out of this spending spree.
What is Diwali?
Festival of Lights:
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important holidays in India. There will be tasty food, fireworks, colored sand, and unique candles and lamps during the five-day event. Hindus interpret the Diwali narrative differently depending on where they are from.
Last week, a lot of India celebrated Diwali, an old Hindu holiday, with a big show of colourful firecrackers and lights that lit up homes and communities all over the country. While millions of Hindus celebrate this festival, the nation’s population of 1.2 billion is approximately 80 percent Hindu and 13 per cent Muslim, which makes it one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world. This year, Diwali fell in October. Also, the exact dates of the festival change every year depending on how the moon lines up, but it usually takes place between October and November. This year, Diwali is being observed on a Thursday.
Symbolism on Diwali
Diwali is a sign of the spiritual "victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of wisdom over ignorance."
How does Diwali affect society?
Similar to last year, the coronavirus pandemic has put an end to many traditional Diwali celebrations. The administration has pleaded with people to stay away from crowded places and major gatherings. In order to discourage gatherings, many people have chosen to celebrate quietly.
In fact, some temples have started streaming prayer services online. However, markets in the nation's capital, Delhi, were crowded with people in advance of the holiday. Officials say that these kinds of actions could cause another dangerous outbreak of illness that would destroy India's health care system. COVID is not the only problem, though. Every year, the use of firecrackers during the festivities makes the pollution situation worse.
This is especially problematic in Delhi, where dangerous levels of air pollution cause a thick haze to cover the city.
Studies done all over the world have shown that pollution in the air is linked to more COVID-19 cases and deaths. Harvard University research shows that an increase of just one microgram per cubic meter in PM 2.5, a dangerously small pollutant in the air, is linked to an increase of 8% in the COVID-19 death rate.
Citations from Government parties about the drawbacks of Diwali
"The gap between urban and rural areas of India continues to be a barrier for longevity, but we also see that urban areas have an advantage in terms of health." Diwali might have been celebrated in different ways and with different expectations, but it is not always the case that urban Indians get to enjoy all the benefits. Rural Indians may feel they only get half the candy rather than getting a full foil box.
"In cities, everybody lives in luxury with exotic treats while those living in rural areas remain deprived and left with a piece of the box," said Sujatha Arun, Senior Program Officer at NGOs and social commentator on Indian issues.
More than half a million Indians have been infected with HIV, but things like food and health care are still hard to come by in poor rural areas, some of which are closer to Pakistan than to major cities.
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