Diwali Blues

Now that Diwali is over and the noxious smoke dissipates, and the bombs fall silent, ask yourself these questions: what makes sane, reasonable, educated and peaceful people act like hooligans? What makes them do things that they would otherwise consider illegal and dangerous? What makes them do things that they would otherwise consider harmful to their children, to the sick, to the elderly? What makes them do things that they otherwise know destroy the very air we breathe, destroy the little bit of peace that nighttime brings?
The answer: culture and religion. Nothing else makes a sensible man throw out all notions of civic, environmental, moral, neighborly responsibility like religion and culture.
Somehow, culture and religion have become magic spells that throw a switch in smart people and make them behave like idiots.
Imagine we ask an alien: there is a certain ritual that humans perform every year – it causes the air to become unbreathable, it terrifies pets, it makes war-like noise levels, but people have fun. Should this be permitted? What do you think the alien would say?
But the alien doesn’t know the perversion that culture and religion cause to reasonable discussion.  
When you weigh the positives and the negatives, religion, and culture always tip the scale in their favour.
Horrifying, noxious smoke that tortures the asthmatics among us; terrifying eardrum scarring bombs that send our beloved pets howling underneath beds and tables – these things have no chance against the weight and might of culture and religion.
It’s not all negative: Diwali brings family together; people have fun. Can’t you do this without dirtying our common air, without shattering the night with weapons-grade explosives? Here’s a moral guideline you can follow: things that are fun should not harm other people. Is that so hard to follow?
As if this country doesn’t have enough problems with pollution.
Culture and religion are two sides of the same grimy, entitled coin and one thing we know about entitlement is that it should never be encouraged.
But of course, no argument will ever work because the response always is: “It’s my culture.”

Photograph ‘Early Trash’ © Roshan Ali

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