Monday, November 12, 2012

Fireworks and Diwali

It is now that time of the year when everyone has had a hectic year. From debt repayments, to no income, to some income to success for many people. There is a sense of euphoria as a tough year winds to a close and people are starting to get into party mode.

The celebrations are beginning as everyone anticipates the close to a great year for some and a financially challenging one for others. The bond that remains for everyone though, is in the fact that each day brings us closer to Christmas and the much anticipated holidays.

With that in mind, Guy Fawkes seems to be one of those special November celebrations where you can have mindless fun. Who knows why this day is so famous when some guy tried to blow up Parliament, but it is a holiday nontheless. One which entails much partying, blowing up of fireworks, burning of scarecrows, banging on the neighbors house door for money and much mindless fun for kids. The fact remains this. On this day, which is not religious, no-one has a challenge with anyone blowing up fireworks because it is reminicent of Mr Fawkes blowing up or attempting to blow up a building. Who knows why that is significant to South Africa, but it is. So we celebrate it. People sedate their dogs, are mindful that their animals are safe and go out to greet or growl at the kids that knock on their doors.

Then comes Diwali, which is of huge significance to Hindus around the world. A day that signifies the end of Terror (Note it is when the Devil was defeated - hence Hindus have no hell and no devil to be scared off), and the lighting of fireworks is meant to signify the destruction and scaring off, of evil spirits, bad energy and Light conquering Darkness (Good conquers evil).  It is also our New Year. Much like the Chinese, fireworks form a significant part of the destroying of darkness and the welcoming of light. I have not heard any complaints about Chinese New Year, yet it seems that Diwali being a Hindu religious festival is the main focus for South Africans to focus on for the wrong reasons.

Now let me explain myself further, before many people vomit, throw up or regurgitate their anger on me. We are a family that love dogs and animals. Let me give you some perspective. We had growing up, 27 dogs (many rescued from the circus, from the Free State farms and off the streets), we also had tarantulas, snakes, an iguana, scorpions, fish and lots of birds. We are a family who not only love but respect all animals.

Even in the predominantly Indian areas, there is a vast majority of people who do not celebrated Diwali and they own pets. The difference between them and the people who complain, create an uproar and throw tantrums, is that they know for an entire year that Diwali is about to descend upon them and they take the necessary precautions to safe guard their pets from harm.

See, the way I see life is this. We all have choice. Sit in your lounge and complain or do something about it. Destroying traditions is not the solution. Complaining is not either. Take a stand the right way.

I also have nothing against any religion or religious beliefs, but I do have a tendency to get pissed off with animal abuse from anyone!! I personally do not light fireworks that have big bangs, but do love watching them when they are set off at the stadiums, during Diwali on the beachfront and on New Years eve. I personally make sure that people are aware in communities and via word of mouth about the significance of making sure that animals are either sedated or taken care of during ANY time that fireworks are being used for any festival.

During the World Cup celebrations, fireworks were used everywhere. There were no designated areas or restrictions. During New Year celebrations, people become over enthusiastic in all areas and shoot of fireworks in their drunken state towards vehicles, people and animals. That is just disgusting. But no-one does anything. Police are scarce and even afraid of doing something themselves. I do not see huge headlines, warnings or patrolling of the various suburbs where people insanely burst fireworks without care for others.

With that in mind, it is now bordering on harrassment when neighbors send police to my house because they saw a Rocket launched into the air. One baby rocket mind you. Not a big bang, not a scary noise maker, but a colourful explode mindlessly in the sky with beautiful colours one, lit by a visitors child.

Now I take umbrage to being harrassed by a neighbor who still calls us Coolies (very backward mentality), calls the fire brigade because we decided to cook in our own backyard, for the underprivileged street kids ( is easier to cook for 200 people in a massive pot on the fire, rather than cook on a stove) and then he also proceeds to state that we are disturbing the peace and tormenting his dogs emotionally (the same dogs that he physically kicks and whips to stop barking).
Now the true significance of Diwali is lost in the stupidity of people who come out of their worm holes long enough to make phone calls of harrassment and then disappear. These are the very same people who also write anonymous letters of disgust for Hindus.The very same kind that do not take the time to learn about other peoples religions or languages but are happy to stereotype everyone in their path enmasse. The very same type of people, who keep asking me to convert to Christianity to save me from the devil. For their information, I do not believe in a hell or devil and am quite happy with my beliefs that all religions are there for the good of mankind.

I am not religious! I do not even force my spiritual beliefs on anyone. I believe simply in being good and kind and to respect the people that I see, than to pretend to respect a higher being once in a while.

People will be up in arms around the world if I had to blatantly say that Christmas should be banned because I do not believe in it. After all, it is one of thee most significant days in the Christian calender - the Day their Saviour was born. Before anyone balks at that statement - I do believe in Christmas and its deep significance for people. As Hindus, we are taught to respect and understand all religions. We are even taught lessons from the Bible.

In the same breathe, it is equally as disgusting and unacceptable for Hindus to be told that we are devil worshippers and are going to to hell if we do not embrace the Christian religion. That is uncalled for, against human rights, beliefs and individual choice. Asking for the banning of fireworks instead of the increase in awareness of Adults is much the same. How about we focus on being more careful and thoughtful of people and animals rather than focus negatively and demean an entire religious celebration. Come on people. We have enough access to information, media, internet and real people so we should be more mature in the way we behave towards each other.

I am tired of being called a heathen and idol worshipper. If you as a person are so backward in your beliefs that you will fall for any bullshit that is spun then good luck to you. I came onto this earth free of a language, religion, beliefs and thoughts. My awareness of life is from my upbringing. Which in essence, means that I was spoon fed a belief system. Whether I believe in it or not is not the issue. What I DO believe, is that at the end of the day, no-one has a right to force me or others to follow what they were taught.

Religion was made by man. It is a set of rules for mankind to follow so that they can achieve various spiritual levels. I will not deny anyone their beliefs nor profess to be a guide for someone who wants to achieve this. It is a personal journey. It is one filled with choice.

All Rights to this photo belong to the Creator (Anonymous)
With that in mind, I feel that if I want to burn fireworks, then as an individual, I should have the brains to realise that it will affect my fellow human beings with the noise levels and that it is scary and dangerous to animals who are not taken care of. Hence my thoughtfulness in making sure that I take extra precautions and go to areas where it is acceptable.

I will not however, condone people who use fireworks irresponsibly and hurt animals without thought. I will not accept children being hurt from lack of supervision. I will not stand by and watch an animal in pain because of the repercussions of the misuse of fireworks.

But I will stand up for the right to use fireworks responsibly because I truly believe that it signifies the conquering of Good over Evil. I love the colours, the comaraderie and the beauty of Diwali. I love the sense of family, thoughtfulness and joy that can be seen on childrens faces. I love the significance of welcoming a new Year into the Hindu calendar. I welcome the lessons and love that is taught and re-instilled on this wonderful day.

But above all, I welcome all people to join with an open mind. I welcome people around the world to take precautions for their own pets on this day, in the same way that they do on New Years and Guy Fawkes day and Fourth of July.

Let us be adults and find solutions. Not remove an entire religious day due to the lack of understanding from some people.

Here is to a powerful celebration where Knowledge wins over ignorance. Good over Evil. And seriously!!!! We have no leave me alone.

I welcome all threats, disbelief and whatever else tickles your fancy.

Until we meet,

take care and have fun!

Arthie Moore