These mothers are part of a pan-India movement called Warrior Moms, which recently launched a campaign #DhoomDhamakaWithoutPatakha. Their concern is not only the studies that have been even accepted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showing a correlation between Covid-19 related mortalities and air pollution, but also a report released by Awaaz Foundation that tested the chemical contents present in firecrackers and revealed presence chemicals, which are harmful and toxic.
Chennai-based Nina Subramani who is part of the Warrior Moms movement says, “During the lockdown, air quality in almost all states significantly improved because there was no air pollution. And we wanted to keep it that way. We launched our initiative in September and this is our first campaign. Warrior Moms is a group of moms from across India who are all concerned about the air we and our children breathe. During Deepavali, the pollution caused by fireworks is a risk to our health. Over the years, there is a decline in the usage of firecrackers. But, in many states, people still burst crackers. Through our campaign #DhoomDhamakaWithoutPatakha, we are urging people to celebrate the festival of lights without bursting firecrackers,” Nina Subramani tells DT Next.
A teacher by profession, Nina says that Deepavali has a got a lot more significance. “We should ask ourselves whether fireworks are an important factor during Deepavali. We are urging people to make Deepavali about celebrating with family and friends. Families can get together and visit elders, exchange gifts, prepare snacks and savouries, decorate the house, light lamps and so on. When I was a child, the festivities were so different. After the morning oil bath and celebrations at home, we used to visit all our relatives. We travelled from one part of the city to another. But now, we cannot step out on the road during Deepavali. The only thing you see around will be the smoke from the crackers,” she reminisces.
While a few states have already banned firecrackers this year, Tamil Nadu has not yet taken this step, taking into account the livelihoods that this industry supports. “We know that things will not change overnight. But slowly, we can bring in a huge difference. Green crackers are just less of the same toxins in the air and if burst in huge amounts, will end up polluting the air we all breathe anyway. So perhaps it is time to phase out this industry while making sure alternate employment opportunities are provided,” says Nina. After the pandemic, people have started to take extra care of the health and many don’t want to compromise the health of the respiratory system. Warrior Moms from Chennai are delighted to see that there are so many people, who share their concerns. “Many parents have gotten in touch with us saying they are going to celebrate Deepavali in its true spirit and by extending help to those in need. There should be more awareness on this,” adds Nina.