Few years ago , couple of nephews landed at my place on Deepawali day and immediately started looking for spmething. "What do you want" the daughters asked them. "Crackers" came the reply. The look of horror that came on their faces would have given anyone the suspicion that they were looking at Count Dracula or at last a ghost. "But it is tradition" blurted out the elder one. Sure, said the daughter, there were crackers when Rama returned from Ayodhya and people burst them to welcome him. "And Narakasura when he died got a boon from Krishna that people will pollute the atmosphere by bursting cracmkers to to commemorate his death", I made my own contribution. The bous didn't say anything but their eyes screamed BLASPHEMY. I was reminded of this incident while watching a TV debate yesterday on crackers. . (I suspect I have a masochistic streak to watch such stuff.) " What will happen to Sivakasi if you ban crackers? It will die" said a participant (spokesman for fireworks manufacturers), adopting the mien of a tragic-dramatic actor And what will happen to the rest of the country gasping under very poor and critical aie quality? Of course, the fireworks guy didn't mention that. Another participant , a champion of Hindu right, argued that there must be some compromise between environment and tradition. You want to go by tradition? Then burning widows on poyres and human sacrifice are also traditions. Why don;t you revive them too? "Tradition" is a vague term that could provide a camoflauge for a whole lot of unsavoury activities, that could harm the society and environment. An environmental activist shut our champion of "tradition" that if banning crackers is anti-Hindu then closing of templesduring lockdown must be construed as anti-Hindu too, Will ge then consider the present ruling dispensation to be anti-Hindu. That shut our Bhakt up. Deepawali has long ceased to be the festival of light. It is a festival of noise and aid pollutikon and bulgar consumerism. You buy new clothes for the festival even if your wardrobe is bursting at the seams, "Tradition: dictates that you guy a new vesse; or pressure cooker or some electronic goods even if you don;t need them. And some people believe Deepawali increases their kids' general knowledge. Yesterday evening, a neighbout was bursting crackrs. When the daughter tickrf the lady off she said sheepishly: "If we don't burst crackers the kids will not eve know what they are". On a need to know scale, crackers don't figure at all. Also there is this "tradition" that if you gamble on this day you would please Goddess Lakshmi. Apparently if you go bankrupe gambling, Goddess Lakshmi will take pity on you and shower you with wealth. Another hilarious practice is the Tamil equiivalent of Happy Diwali. "Ganga Snanam achcha (Have you had a bath in Ganges?), The traditional early morning oil bath is considered bathing i the "holy" river. " TRadition" of course. Yuck! no thanks I don't want a bath in Gnga, even an imaginary one. The river's too polluted despite hundreds of crores being spent on cleaning it. Heaven knows into whose coffers the money has gon.e. We not only burst crackers we also go crackers in the name of tradition.