Monday, November 12, 2012

Greening It Up for Diwali

The festival of lights -- Deepavali, or Diwali -- celebrates the victory of good over evil. The lighting of diyas on a dark, moonless night signifies the end of all things negative. This festival, if celebrated in the traditional sense, has little to do with fireworks. So instead of polluting the environment with them, go ahead and celebrate a 'Green Diwali'.
Here are 10 creative ways for you to make it an eco-friendly affair this year.

Cut down on electricity usage.
Do not use electric lights to illuminate your home. Instead, opt for diyas (earthen lamps) and candles. This will not only reduce the amount of electricity being consumed, the flickering diyas will look prettier too. If you must use electric illumination, opt for LED lights. They use at least 80 per cent less energy than the regular ones and also come in various hues!

Opt out of using Firecrackers and find an alternative activity.
Although there are a number of environment-friendly crackers that have begun to flood the market and are definitely less polluting than others, this Diwali give the fireworks a complete miss. Instead, why not get all the children of the community to go for a nature walk the evening before and collect dry leaves, grass, twigs - then celebrate this festival of lights by lighting a bonfire on the terrace or in an open space and serve homemade sweets and sherbet.Fill up balloons with glitter or small pieces of coloured paper and spend the evening bursting them, either with your family at home or with a lot of friends. You could even have the kids blowing up brown paper bags and bursting them by jumping on them. The cheerful sound will be enough to usher in Diwali.

Go for what’s natural!
In earlier times, rangolis were made to feed the birds. This Diwali, go back to doing that. Instead of using artificial colours, make your rangoli with spices and other food items as follows: • For white, use rice powder • Yellow: Pulses or turmeric • Brown: Cloves or cinnamon • Green: Cardamom (chhoti elaichi) or fennel (saunf) • Red: Dried chilly or even kumkum, if you wish • You can even make a rangoli out of fresh flowers -- their fragrance is sure to create the perfect festive ambience. • You can decorate the doorway with garlands of marigold and jasmine and set up vases of roses and lilies. They will enhance the beauty of your house way better than the paper streamers and artificial lights would have.

Do DIY decorations!
If you must paint your home during Diwali, then use eco-friendly paint. Besides, here are a few ideas to decorate your home without having to paint it at all.
• Twist colourful saris and dupattas to create streamers. Or paint old newspapers and hang them up as wall decorations. • Use brocade saris or gold embroidered dupattas as drapes and curtains instead of going on a shopping spree. • Use your child's leftover craft materials like tissues, sandwich or rice paper to make paper lanterns (kandeel). You could use match sticks to form the spokes. • Save on electricity and stop using the doorbell for a few days. Instead, hang a bell at the door entrance and let all visitors ring that instead. It will definitely add to the puja feeling. • Bandanwars or traditional door hangings are the first thing that welcomes every guest. Make these with leftover papers or bright coloured cloth and then add glitter or paper flowers to them. • Don't throw away any fused incandescent bulbs. Instead, turn them into small flower vases by placing an orchid in the centre as a decorative accessory. You can also paint them different colours and hang them from the ceiling. • Use organic incense sticks and fresh flowers to create that heady fragrance that one associates with a puja. Do away with the synthetic room fresheners.

Choose homemade sweets.
Although innumerable options are available commercially, many of them come with artificial colours and way too much sugar. So this Diwali make your own sweets instead, using only natural products like milk, chickpea flour (besan), coconut, jaggery, dry fruits, sugar etc and keep them both nutritious and unadulterated. Some of the choicest Diwali sweets you can try making at home would be: • Laddoos made of besan and rava (semolina) • Barfi made of coconut and milk • Kheer made of milk, rice and jiggery • Shakkarpare made of flour, ghee and sugar • Gajar ka halwa made of carrots and milk

Organize Activities
Instead of buying expensive crockery for all your parties this festive season, go traditional and stay eco-friendly. Use banana leaves and small earthen glasses to serve the guests. Organise community competitions both for adults and for the children. Some options: • Rangoli competition • Flower arrangement competition • Sweet-making competition • Paper lantern competition for kids • Organise music programmes, puppet shows, talent shows and other cultural events • Throw a dance party. All you need is a music player and you will have all the sound you need without crackers. It will also be less expensive.

Personalize Presents
If you are shopping for gifts, don't buy any wrapping paper; save on it and stop trees from being cut. Instead, wrap your gifts with painted newspaper / make your own gift bags with newspaper / use pieces of cloth lying about in the house, which you can embroider or handpaint, or even jute. As for the gifts, instead of buying them, this year make them at home. Some options: • Bake cookies or cakes • Make homemade sweets • Make candles of different shapes and colours • Paint a picture • Create an artwork by using pieces of bright coloured cloth on a canvas • A potted paper plant or a bouquet of paper flowers • Try your hand at pottery and make a small decorative vase

Make your own cards this year.
Cut out pictures and stick them on craft paper to make your very own customised rangoli drawing on the card. Use kumkum and haldi to create Goddess Lakshmi's footprints on your card. You can even use ribbons, bindis, old clips and pieces of cloth to design your card with bright colours

Give back to your community
Instead of spending hours bursting crackers or drinking and partying, spend some time with underprivileged children. Donate old clothes, stationary etc, play games with them or make sweets at home and celebrate Diwali with them. Share your smile and spread cheer during this Festival of Lights. You can also visit an old-age home and spend time with the elders sharing stories, listening to songs from old movies and eating good food.

Lend a helping hand
When you go shopping, lend a helping hand to the elderly. Arrange for an afternoon of mehendi sessions for all the ladies in your neighbourhood. Spend an evening filled with card games and lots of sweet and salted snacks with everyone who lives nearby. With these simple tips, I wish everyone a very Happy Diwali! I wish all of you a lot of happiness, health, prosperity and safety. This year, let's try and make the festival more meaningful and delightful. Let us promise that in our pursuit of happiness, we will not harm the environment and ourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment