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Indian capital Delhi plans bright Diwali, sans fireworks

Sheetal Sukhija - Tuesday 10th October, 2017

NEW DELHI, India - In a bid to avoid the air pollution emergency like last year, the Indian Supreme Court said on Monday that it was banning firecrackers this year for celebrations during the Hindu festival of Diwali.

Diwali or the festival of lights is being celebrated on October 19 this year and it is a day to celebrate the triumph of good over evil with people illuminating candles, lamps and fireworks. 

However, last year, the Indian capital choked as, after the festival, harmful PM 2.5 particles were seen to have risen 16 times over the safety limit.

So much so, that Levels were too high for some air quality instruments to read.

The Supreme Court banned firecrackers to prevent a repeat of the similar air pollution emergency.

A Supreme Court judge said, “Let’s try out at least one Diwali without firecrackers.”

The reaction to the ruling has so far been mixed in the country, where some considered the decision disrespectful to Hindu traditions, while others said they were willing to let go of the tradition of lighting firecrackers for health reasons.

The festival is celebrated over five days, but the main night coincides with the darkest night of the month in the Hindu calendar. 

As per tradition, the fireworks display symbolizes the return of a Hindu deity, Lord Ram and his wife Sita to their kingdom in northern India after defeating the 10-headed Sri Lankan demon king Ravanna.

Diwali of 2016 was considered to be the most dangerous in a decade.

Following days of environment havoc after the celebration last year, the court heeded a 2015 petition by three children to ban fireworks sales. 

The Delhi government was forced to shut down schools for three days.

The ban went into effect in November 2016 but was temporarily lifted in September on the grounds that a complete ban would be too extreme a step.

On Monday, after the court’s ruling, the ban on fireworks sales is effective until November 1.

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