Raising a child and Diwali

Isn’t raising a child in the right way, the most difficult task in the world? Isn’t teaching him the difference between good and bad, right and wrong the most critical task? Are we witnessing falling standards, moral, ethics and integrity today in the Indian society?

Hasn’t the line that demarcates right from wrong become indiscernible over the years?

“Is stealing from the government (evading taxes) right or wrong?”  Of course, everybody had their reasons; the system is corrupt and everybody does it. I completely understand these reasons. Is stealing a thousand a less of a crime than stealing a million? This is a critical question because people like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya, high net worth individuals exploiting the system are criminals but the government officials they bribed are nowhere in the line of fire. Or even a middle income individuals doing the same but on a small scale are not.  I gave these examples only to make you think if it has become difficult to separate  the right from the wrong. I neither support them nor attack them.

If you are unable to relate to these examples, you could imagine a scenario where you get into a road accident. Were you more likely to receive help by a complete stranger fifty years ago or today? Is the probability of your wallet being taken away when you lay injured higher today or fifty years ago?

How did Indians, an extension of world’s oldest civilization, reach a point where they lost the ability to draw a line between right and wrong? What changed

Parents with ever increasing work pressure and cut throat competition have been facing severe difficulties in taking out enough time to even recite meaningful stories to their kids, let alone spending enough time with them.

Hindu festivals  and events related to Hinduism like Holi, Diwali, Krishna Janmashtmi, Ganesh Chaturthi etc. always helped in providing with more than enough stories and examples to keep the line prominent and clearly visible. They had been filling up the gaps for centuries. But now acute endeavors are being made to quash them. You could give it any name – anti-environment, anti-women, anti-human, regressive or anything else, but the end result is the same; suppress or annihilate the  original authentic content.

The tools that helped parents for ages are now under relentless onslaught.

Two years ago Supreme Court came up with a “draconian” verdict introducing a time table for burning crackers. Not only did the time table destroy the sanctity of the festival by teaching young children all the wrong things but also failed to serve its own purpose i.e. curbing the pollution.

In one family a father explained his son about the time frames – when they can burn the crackers and when not – the reasons behind and what happens if they burn the crackers outside the stipulated hours. The kid understood it and took it quite well. The father was proud of his son. The kid burnt a few crackers with his father then went out with his friends and they all burnt some more crackers. By the time he and his friends were done jumping on the chakries, checking the different sounds sutli bomb makes when put in different boxes and how the box turns into a different shape, or how far he could throw a tikona after lighting the fire or launching an angled rocket from a bottle, it was way past ten. The very first learning that would stick with him for a long will be – it is okay to break some rules. The second and more dangerous learning would have hit him once he came to know that some people were actually punished because they were caught bursting crackers outside the stipulated time – it is okay to break rules with not getting caught or it is okay to break the rules when no body is watching.

Do not complain when he throws a wrapper on the street when no body is looking or pees on the street or spits on something, or worse. Kids can do a lot of things that you would imagine only after they have done it. Every thief, rapist, murderer, corrupt officer, tax evader thinks no body is watching and they won’t be caught; they learnt this somewhere in their childhood. Or do you think they were born like this? 

In some other family there was a different crisis altogether. The timetable had built some tension among the family members. For mom, Diwali was Lakshmi Poojan, which would start only after 6:00 PM as per the Mahurat and she would want her kids to receive god’s grace. This had never been a problem but this year the pooja timings and cracker time were so tight, the kids wanted to finish the pooja as soon as possible as they have to go to their cousin’s place where the entire family burns the crackers together. Poor dad! whatever he says, whichever side he tilts, gets crackers from the other side. 

Moreover, they had to burn the crackers at home and not at cousin’s place because there was not enough time.  Since they burnt the crackers at their place and their cousins burnt the crackers at their place, there was twice the number of crackers burnt in comparison to if they would have burnt at the same place. And of course, the feeling of togetherness, sharing etc. went for a toss.

Of course Diwali for small businessmen who used to manufacture and supply crackers was awesome (that’s a sarcasm). For months I kept on reading the pain of shutting down illegal slaughterhouses, but I don’t see many articles talking about the people who got bankrupt and who lost their source of bread and butter because of a ban on fire crackers, even though their business model was completely legal. Any by the way, who was manufacturing green-crackers?  Because they would definitely be happy. A Chinese firm? 

The only thing that the time table did was, force people to burn all their crackers in two hours which otherwise would have been burnt throughout the week. Diwali is not a one day festival, it is a five or six days festival- choti diwali, badi diwali, bhai dooj, Govardhan, Dhanteras etc. etc. Different families have different budgets for crackers, they buy  the crackers and use them throughout the week, but a two hours window forced them to use it all at once. Now, you decide for yourself, if the rule did any good to anyone.

After that Diwali how did the young children react when they saw loads of smoke coming out of chimneys or diesel generators or plastic or tires burning on the street or may be cars and buses being burnt during protests? How did anybody justify that the smoke generated during Diwali was different then the smoke created by burning crops or other waste? Children don’t follow politics that much, they don’t run their agendas in the name of festivals, but they definitely learn from their surroundings, way more than they say. They now know this care for air is nothing more than a pretentious façade. The only thing they learnt was to say good, ideal things but continue doing bad things; Hypocrisy

I am not upset because of the ban on fire crackers, I got an opportunity to burn as many fire-crackers as possible that Christmas and New-Year and will do the same this year. Some people living in India feel the exact same way, some people like me living outside India feel; second grade citizen. They are celebrating their festivals like I celebrate here; whatsapp diwali and online pooja. You could install an app and burst some electronic crackers: tap and enjoy the sound. Exchange sweets via whatsapp, send emoji, that’s enough. Is it?

Every country and system knows what brings joy to its people, when do their hearts beat. If I wouldn’t be able to celebrate my festivals in India, where will I?

You can consider Hinduism whatever you feel like -evil, anti-human, anti-environment, anti-women, a cause to all your problems, or anything else; use it the way you like. But for me and many others like me, it is a way of life and it helps parents to raise their kids in the right way. There is a reason why ours is one of the oldest existing civilization even after bloody invasions and extreme brutalities.

Hinduism is not a religion by a book, it is a bunch of best practices accumulated over the centuries. 

Wish you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali!!!

Thank you for reading! 

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