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For A ‘Sound’ Diwali Or Is That Asking For Too Much Too Soon?
In the celebrations, let’s not forget our nature, the animals, the sick, the old, the ailing and the health implications on otherwise sound individuals | Aathira Haridas
On Oct 22, 2014

Diwali, the festival of lights is here. Shopping sprees, lights, lip smacking sweets, gifts and of course fireworks that can't be ignored. A lot of people have started thinking that we could do away with the noisy part and embrace a Diwali that goes easy on the environment and is friendly to our ears.

Diwali is a victory of knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness but ironically we are plunging deeper into ignorance. All thanks to the mode of celebration - ignoring the health implications of excessive sound and air pollution. Diwali has turned into a festival of sound and air pollution.

Greatly affected by this turn include kids, ageing people, animals and those recuperating in hospitals. In our joy and thrill we forget the excessive damage these crackers do to our ears.

Yentha talked to Dr. C John Panicker, state president of NISS (National Initiative for Safe Sound), an initiative for safe sound launched two weeks back by Indian Medical Association (IMA) and ENT Association Kerala, to know the health implications of excessive sound and measures taken to rein in sound pollution this Diwali.

To drive home the point of safe sound they imparted training to one teacher each from all schools in Trivandrum who would then sensitise the kids on the need to have a safe and ‘sound’ Diwali.

“As part of the initiative the students were briefed in their assemblies on the need for a safer Diwali where they were sensitised on the grievous health implications unchecked noise can have and to restrain from the use of crackers. If parents issued a letter to the school implying that the kid didn’t use any crackers, then the child would get a certificate issued by the District Collector himself adjudging them as an ‘environment friend’,” he said.

NISS assumes to bring stringent control in noise levels with active participation from the public. “The main issue is ignorance of how dangerous sound pollution is and once they are sensitised, we can hope for a noise pollution free society,” he added. “People enjoy the thrill of bursting fire crackers but little do they know the harm it does to their health which leads to diseases such as peptic ulcer, asthma, high blood pressure, heart attacks, blood sugar variations, hearing loss and so on,” Dr. Panicker warned.

 

It’s also planned to sensitise the various residential associations regarding the health implication of high sound. “Many are ignorant that there is a rule that restricts the sound to 55 db in residential areas during daytime and 50 db during night but these are anyways flouted,” he adds.

Hospitals qualify for a silent zone, within 100m radius of the hospital there is stringent restriction to sound. But we don’t care. Come Diwali, come New Year or come any function we will have our thrill and merriment. Why care a hoot for those in hospitals, or the older generation?


It is a vexing time for the animals too. Most owners report pets missing during Diwali season. It is a harrowing time for the animals with the sounds inducing excessive fear and insecurity and forcing them to flee their homes. Pets get frightened easily and it would be better if you keep them indoors and pacify them and give them space to stay safe.

“Animals are the worst hit as they lack the sound control cell which was part of the last evolution in human beings. As part of evolution we have a mechanism to control sound entering our ear but this is absent in animals which makes them prone to excessive levels of noise which they cannot tolerate,” Dr. John adds.

Those having pets wouldn’t want to be introduced to the effects these seemingly ‘festive’ crackers have. They tremble, bark incessantly, and shiver and if you listen closely enough along with the bursting of crackers you can hear dogs barking incessantly.

“Dogs or rather any animal gets confused with these sudden changes in sound, and a 'flee instinct' sets in. They run away from homes as they cannot tolerate the excessive noise. Give your pets space to hide when they are searching for one and instill in them a secure feeling and continue with your work as if on a regular basis. This would give them a sense of normalcy,” says Dr. Annie Varghese, Assistant Director, Animal Husbandry.

[Even as this reporter was drafting this report, her 4 year old dog Marley was taking refugee beneath her chair trembling and shivering with fear. Flinching every time a cracker is burst, tucking her tail between her legs.]

We are all at the receiving end in one way or the other. In the grandeur and pomp of the festival let’s not forget our nature, the animals, the sick, the old, the ailing and the health implications on otherwise sound individuals. Let’s not get carried away and forget the long term damage these actions of ours have. Enjoy and celebrate by all means but let’s limit the sound and the air pollution. We would be doing our environment and ourselves a great favour.

Diwali is losing the soul of the festival with it being reduced to a display of fireworks, noise and excessive air pollution. The pollution produced in the aftermath of this festivity is a burden.  Let’s not splurge anymore on these deafening crackers. Let’s strive for a safe Diwali one with lights, one for the animals, one for the environment and one for ourselves.
 
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