How to kill an animal’s instinct.

Ever wonder why most dogs, cats, cows and other animals don’t warn us of earthquakes or tsunami anymore?  Can’t they hear a low rumble or feel the vibrations of an impending danger?

Have we traumatized and confused them by exposing them to harmfully loud noises? Every Diwali humans instinctively cover their ears to protect them from their own celebrations. Animals and birds have sharper hearing, but no way to cover their ears.

Such blasts in nature could mean a volcano, an earthquake or a jungle fire. An animal’s instinct is to flee. What happens when terrified dogs try to escape the  ‘atom bombs’ on city roads?

Every Diwali hundreds of dogs are run over. Those not run over are lost in their panic to escape the racket. We found Gabbar Singh starving, injured and lost five Diwalis ago. The sensitive ears that can make out the sound of that one familiar car out of hundreds of similar sounding cars are assaulted every year with noises that they cannot block and cannot understand. Many lost dogs are never found.

Some dogs stop eating and some hide under beds or squeeze under cupboards. My cat hides under a quilt and shivers. Where do street dogs go?

And how do birds react to the sudden noise of endless gunfire every time we decide to ‘celebrate’? Normally these noises are used to frighten away monkeys and pigeons, but what happens when there is no ‘away’ to escape to?

When a real calamity strikes they have no idea this one is for real. All birds are confused like the cuckoo that sings endlessly for the mango season, not aware that we have changed the seasons with our human ways.

Whose Earth is it anyway?

Whose Earth is it anyway?

[Oct 15 is Blog Action Day – an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day on their own blogs with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. This year’s topic is Climate change.]

Edited to add: And yet there is hope, because Bird Loving People Of Kollukudipatti Village Celebrate Soundless And Smokeless Deepavali.


87 thoughts on “How to kill an animal’s instinct.

  1. I have been celebrating Diwali with no crackers since I was 8 years old and always got labelled as the wimpy kid who is scared of loud crackers. Its such a beautiful festival but just gets marred by too much noise and air pollution and we complain that our government is not doing anything to stop pollution, how many of us will follow the rule or oblige if asked to have a peaceful and cracker free diwali? Then we will find our way on the roads to protest. Morning after Diwali shows how much we care for the environment with roads littered with crackers papers and thick smog everywhere.
    sorry for the rant, this is just too close to my heart!

    Me – I think it takes courage to say no to fire crackers when everybody else is behaving like a herd. These people should be asked if bursting fire crackers is macho than street brawls are also macho? There is nothing wimpish in saving the environment.


    • Join the club, I used to be petrified of the Diwali noises. Also hated the Holi colors. I did not mind other people playing using them, but detested being coerced into playing with fireworks or colors, or being labelled a wimp. Our dogs and cats used to be quivering bundles of nerves at the sound. Poor things.


  2. My Gary shivered and howled and sat under the bed for all days in Diwali. No amount on cajoling or coaxing would bring him out. 😦
    Anyway IHM, I have tried telling people this, emailing everybody about awareness of child labour in these firecracker factories, also telling about noise pollution etc. But nothing seems to work yaar. Somehow the Diwali ‘mood’ makes up for all the noise etc. Seems like every year the noise just increases.
    I saw the cracker stalls being set up at every nook and corner this weekend and I seethed in rage. But what to do?

    Me – I know I have read of children having been burnt and blinded in Shivakashi – from what I remember reading they are paid 2 Rs a day, for working in a small badly ventilated room all day. Creating awareness is important…


  3. I don’t know about cats and dogs, but I get confused and hide under a quilt when I hear crackers!

    What about babies? Do people think of them when they decide to add to the noise pollution?

    Me – My neighbour’s little baby couldn’t sleep, each time he fell asleep there was another firecracker, I also fear the damage it does to the baby’s ears… when my son was a year and a half, he’d hear a fire cracker, and point worriedly at the window and ask, “Balloon burst?” I have friends who have asthma but feel firecrackers are an essential part of Diwali. I wonder when did firecrackes join Diwali? Weren’t they a Chinese invention?


    • I don’t know why one has to annoy others to enjoy oneself…I dislike Holi too esp. the water balloons…

      Me – I love Holi but I too dislike any kind of assumption that someone can be forced to play holi, as in throwing water balloons, thankfully now these are not permitted.


  4. i think they are all used to it by now, yesterday i saw a fat streety watching people launching rockets.. if they have to live here they have to get used to it..

    anyway diwali isnt now as it used to be,, not much bombs or rockets now..

    Me – There hearing is naturally sharp, it is possible that those born around Diwali time get used to the noise – which means their hearing is affected as puppies. The rest do run wildly in fear, looking terrified, those who have dogs at home know that frightened look. I hope we see a happy and peaceful Diwali in the coming years…


  5. Iam more concerned about some people locking the dogs in the smallest possible space near the gate, and the only action such dogs are able to do is barking at people, street dogs that pass by, and of course the walking that they get to do in chains in their locality, for fifteen minutes! To me, the helpless barking of such dogs throught the year, throughout their life some how seems more critical than the sound of crackers.

    Destination Infinity

    Me – I have seen this too, it’s extremely sad and selfish of us to do this. Unforgivable thoughtlessness. I wish there was a legal way to stop this…


  6. Again and again, its a story of excesses and inability to keep a balance. The animals and birds try, in their own way, but human greed is a terrible thing, and destroys them. More money, more houses, more cars, more buildings,more shopping, more power, more carelessness, and even more thoughtlessness. Diwali has just become totally commercial…..

    Me – I agree Suranga. We just continue to grab greedily more than our share of every resource… we want more of everything 😦


  7. Good post IHM!! my dog hates the sound of crackers, infact he hates and starts shivering at any loud noise… can feel his entire body shaking…. since we have kinda stopped bursting crackers , it is ok but still the noise from around the neiborhood is enuf to send him running under the sofa or the car!!

    Me – Only those who have been with animals will know how much noise bothers them Aarti! We have not bought firecrackers for years (more than 15 years) and this when we love Diwali. We buy sweets, clothes, music, gifts, books… I mean there is so much choice, why would we chose to enjoy something causes so much unhappiness to others ?!


    • Completely agree IHM!! if only everyone was able to see their distress.. Agreed, people wanna have fun, but as you said not at the cost of discomfort to those poor souls… who cant even scream out what they are going thru!!


      Me – True Aarti 😦


  8. A wonderfully written thought-provoking post.

    I really loved the article about Gabbar Singh. Very heart-touching indeed.

    Me – He is adorable, but imagine if we hadn’t found him! He would have died… he is like a baby, who is afraid on injections, and who doesn’t eat if he is alone… and such a social, loving creature alone on the roads!


  9. I am not a fan of crackers either and I just light sparklers because my Gran says it’s riwaz. I like Diwali because I get new clothes and awesome food to eat. Lol.

    Me – There’s so much we can do Freya!!! There’s music, meeting friends, enjoying festive food, new clothes, but we must do something that is sure to harm nature and us!!


  10. You are so thoughtful and considerate IHM.. I love you for this.. I hope this bulb lights up in more minds and we hear lesser pollution during celebrations.. how can we be so insensitive.. sigh!
    I never thought of animal instinct and the reasons that you have mentioned but I at my parents place also, we have not burst crackers (except for fuljhari) for past so many years.

    Me – Tara we haven’t burst crackers for years now!! 🙂 And it has only made Diwali better for us – no guilt of having contributed to the global warming and pollutants in the atmosphere 🙂


  11. very timely post IHM.We are the first generation who were exposed to noise pollution much.Probably after 5-6 years we will come to know the real outcome of this.But what to do there is no solution for this

    @ crackers : It cause not only noise pollution but also air polution.Probably people can go for combined cracker bursting.

    Me- I agree Anish!! We are seeing a larger number of respiratory diseases every year, and hearing problems too… I read about how we don’t even realise how much our hearing is affected, many people don’t hear too well, but have no idea about it 😦


  12. There are medicines in homoeopathy that calm a dog / cat who undergo intense trauma during Diwali and exhibit totally different behaviour.

    It is a short term problem and they revert back to normal in a week or so. These medicines ought to be given about a week in advance of Diwali.

    Me – Mavin last year I tried one by Himalaya it didn’t make any difference at all… it’s like trying to sedate a dog while traveling, they are so excited the sedation doesn’t work 😦 Also think, what happens to stray dogs and birds 😦


    • You are right. Strays have it tough. They would collect and hide under the staircase in a building huddled together. Sometimes children take great pleasure in scaring these animals.

      It is tough on birds as they fly away in fear during day times. It must be very excruciating at night especially when birds are not hard wired to fly in the dark.

      Me – Thanks Mavin! I hope you are writing for Blog Action Day tomorrow…the topic is Global Warming.


  13. In olden days, Diwali celebrations were on a ground where everyone gathered and burst firecrackers and celebrated. Later people started bursting it on streets. Not only noise pollution but also high rise in asthmatic attacks. These firecrackers release copper and potassium perchlorate into the environment that is toxic.

    Here in US, people burst crackers on July 4th but mostly the show is on a common ground. Just few firecrackers at home which is within the normal range of decibel scale still harmful (but I would equate it to BBQ smoke.)

    Wish you an eco-friendly Diwali!

    Me – This was informative Sol!! I also feel crackers should only be burst on a common ground… every year there are so many accidents and still we have our chalta hai attitude about fire crackers 😡


    • Solilo, I was very impressed about the “common” ground fireworks here too. However, when I expressed it to one of my Indian friends, he gave me a “In the US they are so wimpy.” I wonder, why is being noisy and loud and,I fear, obnoxious a sign of courage?


  14. Good post. To see your empathy towards animals is heart warming . We burst crackers at home in my part of the Country, Kerala during Vishu only. Most temples in Kerala offer ‘bomb’ burst as offerings to God. Temple festivals, sometimes even church and mosque festivals are considered not complete without colorful but loud fire works . Yes we should cut down or stop this practise.

    Me – Charakan I feel these are modern additions and can be given up easily…. provided we see the need to give up 😦


  15. I love Diwali,IHM.I’ve always looked forward to this festival with bated breath.I realize the kind of pollution and fatal accidents it is associated with.But this was one of the festivals wherein all of us in the locality would come together,blow crackers,exchange sweets,have immense fun.There used to be so much of bonding around those few hours.I miss those days.

    But ever since Bronco(my parents’ pet,a german shep) has come into our lives,Diwali has been a low key affair.He is so petrified of crackers that he goes into a shell for one whole week.I feel so bad for him,because all he does is bark bark and bark everytime he hears a blast.I find him so helpless!

    Me – German Shepherd’s have very good hearing!! Dogs can hear I think 40 times more than we can 😦


  16. “Some dogs stop eating and some hide under beds or squeeze under cupboards. My cat hides under a quilt and shivers. Where do street dogs go?”..thats so sad isnt it?We can still protect our pets,cuddle them and solace them but the street dogs have noone or nowhere to go to.

    Its so disheartening!


    • Oh yes! My Doggie does exactly that… increase in noise levels, he does not eat- anything!! 😦

      Me – But your dog has you Aarti 🙂 I know you love your dog – please give a big special Diwali hug from me 🙂


  17. Am so glad u wrote this IHM. I feel as much for the dogs. My extended family in Kolkata lost a doberman on Diwali.It was tragic. I’ve seen animals quiver in fear, and i just don’t see the sense in burning one’s money in such mindless crackers anyway. Light a diya, greet your friends and family, make laddus, distribute them. make merry. But don;t burst those insane crackers. And why just animals, humans are equally traumatized. The old, sick and newborns are all vulnerable.


  18. Thanks for the wonderful post – I have been thoughless about this in the past, while I hate loud noises, I do like the colourful crackers and rockets. This year, I felt tempted to buy some, but decided not to add to the pollution. One more good reason here which I had not thought of!
    While crackers are fun, the harm we do to the environment in terms of noise and air pollution are surely not worth it.
    Have a happy Diwali!

    Me – Crackers do a lot of harm, I hate the smokey mist the morning after Diwali… 😦 I agree SS, just not worth the unhappiness they cause 😦


  19. i had tears in my eyes reading this…

    which is very rare….

    my heart felt a squeeze..

    how more selfish can we become….

    Me – And Oorja we are paying a price too, but still not waking up 😦


  20. i stopped crackers when i was like 10 i guess. i intend to buy a few this year for Cub, but just few phooljhadis and anaar. and hopefully he will soon grow out of it too.

    but defi no bombs or any noisy crackers. its insane and unsafe for everyone! 😦

    Me – I find most kids are taught to love noise by the parents, the natural human (and animal) instinct is to be vary of loud noise. Many people do not have good hearing because of exposure to loud noises, including very loud music.


  21. Sigh…

    for us humans to not think of animals is just naturalinfact if you think about them some might even laugh at you… I keep repeating this.. but we are the worst spieces to live on this planet… !!!!

    We have stopped bursting the noisy ones… since about the time we got our senses… !!! the best crackers are the flower pot and the one that illuminates the sky !!!! somehow they make the festival seem alive…

    My son loves his phool jhadi… thankfully he doenst like the noisy ones either…

    Its great you bring this one up… we must spread this and make people more aware… we must.. !!

    True Hitchwriter! We must spread this, and tomorrow’s blog action day subject is Global Warming, we can write about this too!


  22. Wow IHM! I never really thought from this angle. You are so right! I never really burst any crackers cos I was usually afraid of big noises and used to be teased mercilessly for it. I think Bombay has a rule for no crackers after 10 or so. I dont think anyone follows it though.

    We maybe be forced to stop music at 10 but we can get away with fire crackers all night!! 😦


    • Thank you for that number, it has been duly passed on. And I did nothing great, I just tried a simple bit.

      Yes, I wrote that post so that more people know about it.

      Me – Proud to know you Poonam 🙂


  23. never thought in this angle IHM..
    I have lost interest in bursting crackers long back and all i do is light up candles and diyas

    Me – We are the same Mystery, we have fun but our fun does not include firecrackers either 🙂


  24. Diwali is no more a festival of light, but is sure is a festival of noise. We have not celebrated with crackers for over a decade now. There is so much damage caused to nature, to animals, and to our own hearing due to these celebrations that I cannot understand why more people do not stop bursting crackers. I wonder if they feel they have to, because of social pressure? Has it become a status symbol, how many bombs one bursts and the more illegal the better? Our culture has surely changed.

    Me – This is something I wonder about too Nita … 😡 Why would someone want to continue doing something that is so obviously harming the environment and is terrible for those with allergies or lung infections, and bad for themselves! 🙄


  25. Yes, IHM! My dog used to bark continuously from our bedroom, on the day of Deepawali. He was scared to come out. I have seen street dogs running here and there on the roads, with confusion on their faces and tails down between their legs, in fear.

    I remember my sons bursting crackers till they were in school. Now, we just have a get together at home, eat, eat, eat and chat! We don’t buy even a single cracker pack.

    I feel sorry for all the animals and birds in our world…we are the worst creations of god, I think! I watched a documentary, last Sunday, ‘Koko’. It is about a South African chimp. They have become endangered species now. People kill them for their meat, it seems. They are so intelligent animals and express their love to humans, so well. We are inhuman.

    Me – I feel we are inhuman too Sandhya… only humans hurt knowing they are causing hurt… 😦 But it’s nice to see so many of us saying no to fire crackers…


  26. As you mentioned somewhere in the comments, only those who have animals or could see from their viewpoints may be able to sense the difficulties they are facing, as they cant talk, or better, we cant listen to them

    Me – Rocksea I also feel children are generally open to being kind to animals… Also compassion and sensitivity makes us better humans, I feel those who are knowingly cruel to animals will not be kind to humans either.


  27. This post has touched a chord. I really wish we humans to be a little more human! It is sad the way we are upsetting our ecosystems and screwing up our planet. This thought has bothered me so many times. It is so difficult to change mindsets. The pollution. the noise. The normal response is , ” I am just bursting a few” But so are millions of others around u.

    Me – Well said Butterfly!! But so are millions of others!


  28. Very timely and thoughtful post IHM. When we don’t have time to think about fellow-beings what to talk about animals. The world is becoming a dangerous place to live in for all living beings. So much money is wasted in the name of Diwali to get waste and pollution in return. Can’t we be happy with some candles and sweets?

    Me – I so agree!! We are making the world unsafe for ourselves and for others too! And I have no doubt that we can have a great celebration without making a racket and without polluting the world.


  29. Well timed and indeed very sensitive just because these animals and birds can’t articulate their anguish we human beings continue to destroy nature with our thoughtless ways…thank you for giving voice to what they go through with all this noise pollution

    Wish everyone take cue and celebrates a Green Diwali

    Me – I hope for a green Diwali too!!! Only then will we have a Green planet 🙂


  30. Well, Diwali is a festival of lights and the lamps we light cn bring in so much cheer and joy that we dont need to resort to those noisy monsters for the same! Rather, they just leave children scared! I can’t even remember when we last burst crackers @ home! I mean, we used to have a combined session in the school play ground and then one in the ground beside office! It always disturbed me to think of any heart patients, anybody sick for that matter or infants arnd who can’t just tolerate the sound and ppl go on bursting them!

    Infact, I feel most of them want to demonstrate hw gr8 they are, hw brave that they burst those bombs! There are other ways to show their bravery which they never do! Ppl hv got to learn 😦 Wonder when they will!

    For us @ home, Diwali hs always been a festival of those harmless lights which not only light up the house but our mood too and show us we have got to move from darkness to light!

    Me – Combined celebration is a very nice idea!! It’s a great bonding time no doubt!! And we also have fun filled card sessions with the family, my husband wins the most and then he has to treat everybody with whatever he wins 🙂 We also have Dilwali dance parties, and dinners and pot lucks and walks in the neighbourhood to see everybody’s rangoli (my fav thing is this rangoli)… and lots of ethnic wear and endless sweets!


  31. IHM, That is such an important observation. We haven’t burst crackers for years now – but to be honest, it was more to do with the pollution in mind. I never thought about the impact that the crackers must be having on children! It is so inhumane. Poor mute creatures – they can only cower in fear.. As you said in a previous comment – the stray dogs are the most badly affected. I remember, when we were growing up, some unruly boys, trying to tie a cracker on a stray dogs tail! My parents admonished them and they let the dog go – but I wonder how many stray dogs must have been tortured like this? Because we think it is fun! Reading your post brought back the memory.. I just hope that more people thought like you.. And am sure reading this post will also change the way a lot of us think.

    I have heard of such things too Smitha… it’s upsetting and very sad. I always talk to any child being cruel to animals because I believe it’s ignorance that makes children cruel, most children are kind (it’s the way we were created to co exist)…


  32. This is a really really shaking-up-the-reader kind of post. Its the third year running, that I am away from India on Diwali, and hence the memories have somewhat faded I believe. But this post just brought it all right back. I remember elephants being made to walk the narrow streets, to collect money on Diwali night. It makes my blood boil. Really does!! The less said about human inhamunity, the better it is.

    I have photos I took of this in Kerala – during the day, in heat, smoke, drum beats being marched from house to house, will find them and post them… I remember feeling exactly how you are… we who put our own children through ‘pati patni aur woh’ and supaari sort of trauma, can we be trusted to be responsible when we have a helpless creature in our power? And then we wonder why elephants go so wild.


  33. Every year I hope that there will be less noise and air pollution. I wonder what the birds do the next morning when they find the sky laden with dust and particles and not an inch of clear blue sky!

    Another thing which I wonder about is,why would someone put lights up all around their balcony or walls for close to 10 days… there is so much wastage of electricity. If you are so fond of lights.. then get small covered diyas and place them religiously on the wall or balconies, rather than turning on the lights every evening. I guess this is not related one bit to the post, but this is something which has been striking me every day when I go out in the evenings for a walk.

    I agree. Tomorrow is Blog Action Day, please do write a post about this Aathira!! .. when we can do nothing else we can spread the word at least.


  34. I cannot speak on behalf of cats and dogs as I am terrified of anything that walks on four legs except babies….sigh! I run and hide under whatever if I see dogs or cats nearby 😦 But yeah I hate crackers and all that noise *sakshi all of a sudden realizing that she is scared of too many things*

    I really hope we Indians would follow the way Presidents Day, New Year etc is celebrated here in USA, Just a few minutes of Fire Works in a common place is what they do here and I enjoy it too 🙂

    But your thought for those poor animals is commendable 🙂

    Me – It’s a good idea to celebrate at one common ground – under supervision and within legally permitted decibels. LOL Sakshi, I am also afraid of touching dogs or cats I don’t know, and of dark and of traveling alone and of a million other things, animals feel the same fears we do, maybe worse because they don’t even know what’s happening…


    • Btw the big round eyes you were asking abt at Swaram’s 😯 hee ask the now smiley expert put the word shock in between that : 😯 sheesh am giving out smiley gyan now 😯

      Me – Aww Sakshi thank you!!!! I am totally in shock, a delighted shock 😆 😯 😯 😯 😯 !!!


  35. I am sorry to say but I never gave a thought to this.. My sweety gets so scared that she goes below the bed and never comes out until its all quiet.. i thought that she is just too cowardly.. any new and loud sound scares her..

    Ah but it is sad how we are assaulting the animals n birds!

    Me – Winnie the poohi they are so helpless, imagine they can’t even cover their ears! We used to keep our dogs in a store room at my mom’s place and here we switch on the TV, and keep fan on full and still we can’t dull the noises, a friend has a six month old baby who is not able to sleep because somebody is always out there bursting fire crackers… 😦


  36. There’s a legitimate problem here – animals by nature get scared by loud noises such as a gunshot, and of course Diwali crackers.

    But I don’t think there’s any physical harm done. From what I remember, the ears of mammals are sensitive on a logarithmic and not a linear scale – meaning that for something to sound twice as loud, it has to have 10 times the actual decibel level.

    But of course, I’ve seen my own dogs cringe in fear each time a firecracker explodes. Your point about street dogs is also valid. They must be somewhat accustomed to hearing car honks so perhaps their emotional tolerance level to loud noises would be higher?

    No way to really tell though – we need to be in their skin for that.

    Bhagwad they run in fear and get hit or they get lost. I know of dogs lost and dogs found around this time… Diwali is a bad time for dogs. They stop eating too. I think some street dogs are better used to noises (- those born around Diwali time grow up used to it – I read this somewhere) but Diwali noises are too much even for them… I wish I could believe they don’t mind…


  37. I guess IHM, the craze for crackers has continuously diminished over the years… Hope this trend continues.

    There’s a lot more awareness these days.

    Me – I agree Rakesh! We would have not even thought of talking of a Diwali without fire crackers in every house some years ago. There’s growing awareness no doubt!!


  38. Noise pollution contributes to many of the modern day diseases. Anxiety attacks. stress, deafness, high blood pressure , aggression and the list gets longer and longer. Fireworks to citizens have been banned for many years on my island, only star lites the hand held sparklers are imported for consumers. Special permission and permits has to be sought to import and detonate fireworks for special occasions . It is done with the Fire Service on hand.

    Me – That’s my idea of a responsible celebration!!

    Not going off the subject too much I would like to share this touching monologue by a famous comedian in a serious moment.

    “The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness”. George Carlin

    You can read more at the link below

    Me – How true islandgal!!! I can’t imagine why more people can’t understand this …


  39. Consideration – thats one word which we Indians ignore, one word that we dont seem to understand, one word that has no space in our dictionary !

    Me – I agree Vimmuuu… that’s all it takes to coexist peacefully, some consideration for others….


  40. i agree to your point… but instead of curbing the use of crackers…atleast the ones that just give beautilu colors and light should be allowed…

    i really miss using crackers as they are illegal in boston 😦

    Thanks so much for you lovely comment on my post… u have put it really aptly as to how I feel about my mom’s opinion 🙂

    Neha My daughter and I have that conversation too – exact same conversation!! I was amazed and delighted to read it 🙂


  41. I agree that noisy crackers should go away. But, like in developed countries, we should regulate the usage of fireworks – and allow the ones that cause less pollution.

    My concern was regarding your reference to Sivakasi.

    The story that Sivakasi is a haven for child labor is an age old obsolete one. I am from Sivakasi, and it is very sad how this misconception of Sivakasi and Child Labor still exists. In the last 15 years, much has been done to eradicate child labour in Sivakasi, and it hardly even exists today. The district is 100% literate as per the latest survey. There are more than 40 educational institutions here, most of them run by Fireworks owners. There has been so much done by the Fireworks industries here to bring education to the poor, and school drop outs are way below the country average. Even the education of girls is well taken care of, there are seperate schools and colleges for girls, and also co-ed institutions, and they almost outnumber boys in classes.

    But, what still exists is – cottage industy. About 40% of match / fireworks production is through cottage industy. Parents bring raw materials (like paper, sticks, labels, gum etc) from big factories – and do the assembly at home. And their kids also take part in this work after school time. There are no safety issues here, ‘coz only basic assembly is done at home (mostly cut & paste stuff) – which does not include any explosive chemicals. But, it does affect a child’s study time. There are of course no laws to prevent this (as it is something like a child doing household work).

    The media still blames Sivakasi for child labor (old memories die hard), and I am sure they will continue to blame – but as far as Sivakasi is concerned it is a thing of the past.

    Thanks for this information Viv!! I think it is really amazing that Fireworks factory owners have opened schools there. They probably employ only those above a certain age now, I am also glad to read that girls go to school there!
    I feel regulation of the kind of fireworks are made is very important.


  42. Couldn’t agree more. We as humans are lucky to be able to plug or cover our ears or just hibernate at homes. I hate to see what happens to stray animals during Diwali and Holi. Anyways, i’m going to do my bit. 1) I’m going to let some stray dogs into my walkway 2) smack a couple of kids in my colony, and get them to listen 🙂


  43. I think as a society, we Indians don’t care too much about animals. They come way to down in the list of caring for most people. People don’t even care about fellow human beings, animals are far for them. We are just not considerate people.

    Every diwali or when their is a big grand shaadi in the neighborhood in Delhi, I have seen my cats curling up and hiding away in some nook and corner…and I have close to 25 cats at home. They just cling to us on the bed and refuse to eat and drink. It really breaks my heart to see them suffer so much.

    I have seen how my mother suffers every year on Diwali, coz she is asthamatic. For days she has breathing problems. So, when everybody is celebrating, we are on alert and worried about my mom and how uncomfortable and in pain she is.

    I have seen what my very old Alzheimer ridden grandma goes through when there is loud noise and what set of problems that brings for her and everyone at home. I cant even imagine the plight of babies and many more animals, birds, people I have not mentioned.


  44. Here, fireworks are not allowed except on Guyfox day anyway. Most of the Indian community here, including us, buy the fireworks when they go on sale on this day and then use it for the next Diwali. SInce there is a lot of awareness of Diwali here, the neighbours mostly don’t complain if we burst a few.

    But for last few years I have been trying to teach my kids about how harmful it is for the environment too. I think my words would carry more weight if D backs me up on this one. But he is the kind who thinks – what’s Diwali without fireworks 😦

    Since I have failed to convince him, I have adopted a different stragtegy 😀 I have been telling the kids about the harmful effects of the fireworks and hopefully they themselves will one day tell their dad they don’t want any fireworks for Diwali!

    I think I will get the kids to read your post…


  45. I think we will reduce our crackers this year. This is an interesting post. I’ll read your blog again.

    Me – Welcome to my blog Hari!! We haven’t bought crackers for several years now Hari, and it hasn’t taken the fun away from our Diwali!! I am sure you will feel the same 🙂


  46. A fantastic though provoking post.
    I too have noticed this phenomenon with my pet dogs over the years during the Diwali season. It being not limited to just the main festival day, but starting around a fortnight in advance and lasting weeks later.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful insight.
    Let’s hope to celebrate a safe,sweet,sparkling cracker free Diwali this year and every year from now on.



  47. Oh, I so agree with that, I remember two years back when I was home my dog was so impatient & uncomfortable. that we had to stuff cotton in his ears and then get him inside the house, and the most furious member of the family slept under my bed wrapped in a blanket which on usual days he hates.

    And that is not all, he just wouldn’t go out for the next week or so till people stopped bursting crackers completely. Its a pity that we don’t understand that the world is not exclusive to us.


  48. I know how much the crackers, smoke and noise used to scare me as a child and continue to affect me as an adult – I don’t doubt at all the trauma it must cause to animals. What business is it of ours to mess with God’s creatures in this way? I wonder what effect this festival also has on sick people, whether asthma patients or people with other respiratory ailments, and even others who are sick in different ways but just need rest and quietness.

    It doesn’t make sense to me because we’re not really celebrating anything more than a tradition of our ancestors. Firecrackers are fun for a lot of people, sure, but considering the side effects, it seems a little extreme for the whole country to come together as one person and make a noise over nothing material. Maybe this counts for uniting measures towards (superficial, majority-based) peace in the nation? That is the only reason I can think of, for why no laws have yet been made towards crackers only being allowed in approved open common grounds.

    Some questions seem to have the simplest answers but human nature makes implementation appear impossible without divine intervention.

    Me- Welcome to this blog Aridhi! I agree with you, we need urgent laws making crackers permitted only in approved common grounds!!!

    And did you notice I added a rangoli on the side bar after seeing your rangoli pics?! 🙂 Not as creative, we just added a lot of colours 🙂
    Here’s a close up for you, wishing you a very Happy Diwali!!!

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic


    • Your rangoli is gorgeous 🙂 I love looking at beautiful colourful things especially because good use of colours is my personal weakness, I can’t do it 🙂 Thanks for putting up the lovely picture 🙂


  49. i know…
    i always feel terrible for pets…
    i have a dog and two cats… and i find them miserable every diwali 😦
    i try to make them as comfy by keeping them safe and away from noise as much possible

    Me – The worst part is they have no idea what’s happening! 😦 We do the same… but I feel there is just too much noise !!


  50. Wonderful post IHM… I have never thought it this way…

    not concerned about the lives which live near by us… I swore now… I won’t touch a cracker anyday… its already been 6 years since I have touched it…

    but I believe the crackers with no sound are not harmful…


  51. Well, read your post . . Thought I need to share my views. . To be frank, I am a supporter of animals too, and I have so far supported a lot of cats – around 20 of them – I had them in my home – so far. I’d love to be with such an animal.

    But then, having said so, I need to throw light on the other side of it too. I have lived in many cities so far, and the most common problem I see, in all the cities is the issues caused by the stray dogs. Right now, in the place I live, there are more than 50 stray dogs, and every night they chase each and every single vehicle which come by. Due to that, a few accidents too have happened (terrified citizens losing their balance). That too, most of these stray dogs are infected with diseases and have pus dripping from their skin, that people are struggling to walk in the nights.

    The issue is that, the government is not ready to do anything about these dogs. When we go and tell the authorities, they tell us to catch and chain these dogs and they will come and take them away. How pathetic!

    So, in this situation, when it comes to the ‘plight’ experienced by these ‘poor’ animals, eventhough I support animals, I don’t want to entertain these stray dogs which are a real hazard to people. My personal view is to kill all of these stray dogs, so that the people around, are safe. When it matters to the safety of people, there is nothing wrong in killing all these stray dogs.

    That’s what I feel, after seeing and experiencing the problems caused by these animals.
    And, about crackers and things, I support your view. I’m also celebrating a noiseless diwali for the past many years.

    Me -Stray dogs survive whereever there is food (garbage dump, slums where people feed them, road side restaurant where food is thrown in the open and is available, so if open garbage is there, stray puppies will grow up into big dogs, if there isn’t any food available, only a few tough ones will survive, the rest will die. That is natural balance.
    So maybe you could opt for vermiculture pits and better garbage disposal system.
    ABC -Animal Birth Control has been successfully implemented where I live, all our stray dogs are sterilised and given anti rabies shots. The number is stable and the dogs serve as watch dogs – they allow no outside dogs or people (at night) to enter the area without raising an alarm. We have not had a single case of dog bites, if it happens we will identify the dog and make sure he is kept tied near the watchman at night.
    Killing is not a practical solution, because the only time PMC poisoned our healthy and sterilised stray dogs, new dogs from surrounding areas filled their place and thrived on the nearby dump, we had to get them all sterlised once again. Our attempts to clear the garbage have not been successful, but I read a detailed research where it is found that clean areas do not have many stray dogs, whereas construction sites, developing areas, slums, dhabas etc are an open invitation for stray animals – cows, dogs, cats and crows etc.
    While getting them sterilised and vaccinated I could not help but see how loving each one of those tick, maggots and lice laden animals was, and how terrible some humans were. In one case somebody had tied a tight nylon string around a pup’s leg, as the pup grew it kept getting tighter, by the time we managed to catch him and get him help, he had pus and maggots. A little regular care miraculously healed his leg, now he has a name, and we know that he never eats if we throw him a biscuit, he only takes it from our hands 🙂
    I find it impossible to hate stray dogs, I would always look for solutions that do not involve cruelty or killing. I think we humans have become too used to killing and death…
    Also nearly all the stray dogs are ‘owned’ by the poor and the slum dwellers. They keep them for their safety and sometimes when they move they leave the dogs behind. Othe love their dogs the way we love ours, they don’t have money for their own treatment where can they afford treatment for the dogs? I have worked with them and I know that some of them are kinder than us.


  52. Hey.. juz saw ur blog, after a while.. And observed that my reply after you posted ur reply got removed.. Any particular reasons? Juz curious to know abt why a supporter of comments happen to remove one herself . . 😉


  53. I am a school teacher in Borivali west, Mumbai.Will be grateful if you send few pictures with captions where i can propagate the message among students to ban crackers, for us,our environment.


  54. Pingback: Delightful pictures of green pigeon activity from my balcony. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  55. Well articulated and nicely written. This reminds me of a phenomenon I have been observing lately. The dissappearance of crows, sparrows and other ‘domestic’ birds in urban cities. When I was a little kid in Shillong, the chirping of birds was something I took for granted. But in the last few years, they’ve pretty much disappeared, for some reason I can’t figure out. I never knew how much I’d miss their chirps in the morning, till I started to miss them.


  56. Pingback: Three things I would like to see changed in Karvachauth celebrations. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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