Religion needed a face so they made statues of gods,
Gods were to be the face of the shield so they made Yama the face of fear,
But the shield did not work in its own courtyard,
Yama sat wordlessly as his creators killed,
Putting the blame on him and the shield, slying away blame free into their holes.
What an irony! The temple where devotees gathered to seek blessings for longer lives and better health was witness to more than 100 lives being burnt down right in its courtyard. The goddess is supposed to be benevolent and bless on the last day. Did she even have a say in this?
The latest manmade tragedy to strike – a fire broke out in the early hours of the final day of the temple festival in Puttingal temple at Paravur in Kollam district of Kerala, India. A fire spark from the fire crackers which were being burst is said to have set fire to the entire shed where fire crackers were being stored. As a result a massive fire broke out injuring more than 350 people out of which 102 have already lost their lives. While there have been demands to the Devaswom Board, which manages more than 1000 temples in Kerala, to ban use of fire works in temple festivals; the board has refused to do so sating that fire works are part of the local traditions in Kerala.
Can’t someone at the Devasom board look at why the tradition came in and do we still need to practice it?
I had written in one of my earlier posts:
“We happen to be a society struck between the glorious past with its beliefs and very logical reasonings and an evolving present where we have just carried forward the beliefs and not the reasonings; becoming a largely superstitious society. We have become the herd that just follows without any questions asked. A society that has become blind in our beliefs. What else would you call beliefs without reasons and practices that are no more in sync with the reality of this nation.“
And this is exactly what we are today. A declining civilisation that seems to have lost the ability to reason. The local traditions in Kerala had a reason as to why fire crackers were part of temple festivities. Urbanisation has led to the jungles being cleared off to make way for villages and cities but back in the ancient past, when these traditions were conceived, it wasn’t so. Kerala in the ancient past was a heavily forested land. Those were the times when man lived amidst nature. The villages were surrounded by forests. And forests had wild animals abound. The temple festivities took place early morning thought the night – the time of wild animals and their nighty prowl. To scare off the dangerous wild animals from venturing into the village and finding easy prey, the fire crackers must have been used. The light, sound and pungent smell from sulphur used traditionally in the fire crackers are all repellants for the creatures of the wild.
Times changed. Human population increased manifold times over. Land became scarce. Forests gave way. Wild animals moved to the zoo or to the existing jungles which are no where near the urban towns and villages we live in today. But still the fire crackers are being burst. In the name of tradition. Causing destruction to the environment, animals and humans. Even leading to life damage!
But are we willing to ban the tradition? No! The question is WHY?
Diwali is the biggest festival in North India. In the Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh) of my childhood, Diwali nights used to begin a week before the main day (Laxmi Puja) and the night of Diwali was nothing else but sound and light. It used to go on very late at night. I remember, mom used to find it so tough to make us go to bed that night. We would lie down reluctantly in our beds listening to the zoooom…boooom…dhooom. But the Bhopal of today, we hardly hear the crackers for half an hour, maximum. Diwali is celebrated in North India as a symbol of the victory of good over evil. Lord Ram is believed to have returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of his exile on this night. What remains of Diwali is just the symbolic fire works. Lord Ram is still worthy and popularly prayed to but the traditions are changing because all fire crackers bring are noise pollution, air pollution and fire accidents. People can see it. They have lowered the firecrackers tradition on their own as there was no board to seek permission from.
Dear Devasom Board you need to follow suit, please. How many more tradegies are you waiting for? Weren’t these enough to tell you that this tradition had outlived its time and most importantly its use.
Sabarimala Temple Fire in 1952 – Killed 68
Fireworks Production Unit Fire in 2006 for Thissur Pooram festival – Killed 4
Firecracker Unit at Athani in 2011 for Thissur Pooram festival – Killed 6
Maradu Kottaram Bhagavathi Temple fire in 2016 – Killed 1
Puttingal temple Fire at Paravur in 2016 – Killed 102 (still counting)
Please shy away from your petty politics of losing religious importance and making money out of all those local fire cracker contractors. Lives are at stake here. Your board members are possibly the most learned in traditions and their reasons once upon a time. Be reasonable, evaluate if those reasons are still valid. You need to see light soon. You know Indian youth aren’t too tolerant these days. Especially with age old outdated traditions, which cost us lives, and their pseudo-guardians.
You will have more importance and respect that way. Our gods don’t need your fire works and sound pollution. They would rather have their devotees live another day to love the statues with a heart full of faith.
Please don’t give us another reason to doubt the institution that you are so hard trying to uphold.