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When the city gets divided into‚ ‘for and against ’ the celebrations

AHEAD of every festive season, there is a soft war, thankfully, between the traditionalists and reformers on how a festival should be celebrated; and backers of rituals fend off against those who would put environment concerns at apex adulation, and worship.
When it is Ganesh Chaturdhi, this soft war manifests as organic clay idols propagators punching at a notch up and seeking to stop immersing of chemically painted Ganesha idols in the Hussainsagar lake. During Holi, it is the colours. During Diwali, yes, the crackers and sounds, the smoke and pollution.
I have no bone in the fight. I won’t claim to know which side pleases the gods more. Does Ganesha wish to be painted with chemicals and dumped into a lake more than being made of clay; or does Lakshmi bless those with more money who burst loud crackers over those who keep the affair silent?
But this year, the debate was slightly settled; what with reports claiming lesser air pollution over the airs of Hyderabad thanks to the unexpected rains. Both sides had a view, again. The environmentalists blamed the rains on global warming, aided by previous years’ crackers and all having their iota of contribution – and maybe silently thankful at the irony that a weather system screwed by global warming rescued them. Those who deny global warming stands a chance before the divine aura felt it was God’s way of subduing the festival, and maybe silently cursed the unexpected showers.
I asked the little six-year-old birdie in our building, who along with her friends had been leading the crusade for a silent Diwali for a week, and who was looking wistfully at the sky on Sunday afternoon, – “what are you praying for – Diwali or rains?” She considered for a while, before adding, “Diwali. But rain is also good – my doggie is so afraid of the rains.”
I pushed the onus on her brother, three-odd-years older than her, who needed not a second to retort – “Diwali. Not that rains can stop me or my friends. We will still burst all the crackers.”
I would have loved to have asked their dog, but it was obviously hiding under a bed. And its vote was for a heavy, heavy rain than would render the bombs wet and useless. And the Godhead, if there is one, heard the dog’s prayers more than the humans. Maybe there is still some hope. And yes, I lied – everyone has a bone in this.
Tailpiece: The middle-aged fox told me that my piece applies only to half the city; which is Hyderabad. Because it did not rain in Secunderabad. Now, who amongst us can really say which is which?

—  (Sriram Karri is author of the bestselling novel Autobiography of a Mad Nation. He writes for international media including The New York Times and BBC besides organising debates at Hyd Park)

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