It is that time of the year, when along with the annual ritual of ‘saaf-safai’ at home, we also stock our houses with tons of firecrackers. For most of us growing up, Diwali wouldn’t be the same without fuljadi’s, anars and ladis. But while these extreme bright lights and loud noises seem to give, so many of us, immense happiness, there are other beings in our country that go through intense torture. During Diwali celebrations, we often see animals be it a stray dog or birds or even a pet, most of them go into hiding. Some of them are so scared that they resort to yelping and howling to express their fear.
Actress Anushka Sharma is a philotherian, and detest any kind of cruelty melted out to animals. During her campaign ‘Pawsitive’ for animals, the actress urged everyone to have a noise-free Diwali. In an interview with a daily, the actress said, that as a child if someone had told her how animals are effected by firecrackers she would not have burst them. “I want to let everyone know — especially children — the harmful effects firecrackers have on animals, birds and the environment. And I think it’s very important to start saying something like this to kids, because it’s an impressionable age, and I know they love bursting firecrackers, and it’s not something they will understand completely right now. But I feel, when I was younger, and I used to burst crackers, if somebody told me this, I don’t think I would have burst them. So it’s needed to condition and sensitise people towards animals,” said Anushka. The “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” actress has a Labrador, named ‘Dude’. Many Bollywood star like Ranbir Kapoor joined her campaign.
Ananya Birla who is the daughter of Kumar Mangalam Birla—India’s ninth richest man, apart from a straddling the diverse worlds of microfinance and e-commerce business and a music career, Ananya is also a dog owner and aficionado. “During Diwali, my family and I do not burst fire crackers, because that’s the worst thing for my dog Skaii. We give her added attention and show her extra care. I feel that as responsible human beings, we have to protect them just like we protect our loved ones during tough times. I request our neighbours not to burst fire crackers and talk to their kids about other fun ways that we can celebrate and still adhere to our age-old Diwali traditions. Their kids come over to play with our pets at times and once they have seen what Skaii’s reaction is to the noise, I must say they act like mature care-givers and happily chose to forfeit the bursting of crackers,” says Ananya who has a three-year-oldLhasa Apso.
The sufferingof another being
A lot of people who burst crackers believe that since it’s only for one evening, there is no real harm done. We don’t stop for a breath to picture the unforeseen consequences of this ‘one evening’.Birds and young animals like pups, cats, are more vulnerable to loud explosions as they adversely affect their hearing system.
“It breaks my heart to see them in so much distress. Even I don’t enjoy the noise from fire crackers, I cannot even imagine how it would be if the same noise was three times louder,” says Elria Monteiro, who owns four cats –Murphy, Cleo, Phoebe and pepper.
“I feel really scared when I see himin so much stress and feel he might exhaust himself while running around his cage. So I keep holding him every one or two hours and keep petting him,” says 21-year-old ShivangiSharangpani, who has an18-month-old hamster, Bahubali.
On the street, helpless
While some animals have been lucky to have a safe house with a loving family during this horrific time of the year, poor street animals who face the worst brunt of this happy festival. Many street dogs are even burnt alive and some even die due to the pain from the sound. “Unfortunately, street animals are the direct victims of noise pollution during Diwali. We can save our pets from distress by making them comfortable in our homes, but street animals have nowhere to go. One such time, a dog entered the vicinity of my home in panic from all the noise. He was violent and unresponsive. I tried to give him some water, and keep a mattress for him to sleep,” says Shivangi.
Advocate painless life
Although unfortunately, many only realise this importance of this issue once they see their pet go through this pain every year. But there is still some lives, which we can help. “Thankfully, with people talking about the harmful effects of crackers, not just with animals but also the environment, babies, elderly citizens, people are slowly but steadily moving a towards a no noise Diwali.The only way to create a larger, more impactful change this is to talk about it more. We need to show people what the effects actually are, on those who can’t speak for themselves,” advocated Elria.