Residents of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) are witnessing worse air quality with winds bringing pollutants in Delhi’s air from Punjab and Haryana, where farm fires are continuing. People have been advised to avoid all outdoor activities and keep medicines handy in case of respiratory diseases. During this period, Delhi’s levels of PM 2.5, particles so tiny they can enter the lungs and bloodstream, often rise to beyond 30 times the safe limit.
Given the severe levels of pollution in Delhi that increases multi-fold during Diwali, the Supreme Court had allowed only ‘green firecrackers’ (which are less polluting) to be sold. The online sales of firecrackers is also banned.
However, the court has given green light to only “low polluting” green crackers that produce less emissions and are within permitted decibel limits. On Diwali, people will be allowed to burn crackers between 8 pm and 10 pm.
One section of people has been clearly irked by the court banning the crackers during Diwali. They argue that it is like the “Mughals banning Diwali crackers.” They also believe that firecrackers are an essential part of Indian ethos and banning them is an assault to the culture.
It is widely believed that after firecrackers got invented in China, sometime in the 7th century, and they rose to popularity to other countries too.
Mughals, during the early days of their empire, are believed to welcome the festival of lights, Diwali (they called it as Jashn-e-chiraghan) through fireworks. It is also believed that the Mughal successor states of the 18th century too continued the tradition. The fireworks are often depicted in Mughal paintings.
Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi specifically talks about evening fireworks on Shab-i-Barat. It is also said that Mughul ruler Aurangzeb had once banned the firecrackers in the year 1667. The order read:
“The Emperor ordered Jumdat-ul-Mulk to write to the Mutsaddis of all the subahs (provinces) of the empire that display of fire-works (atishbazi) is being forbidden. Also, Faulad Khan was ordered to arrange for announcement in the city by the beat of a drum that no one is to indulge in atishbazi”.
As per a media report, Aurangzeb had also written to the Subahdar of Gujarat:
“In the city and parganas of Ahmedabad (or Gujarat) the Hindus, following their superstitious customs, light lamps in the night on Diwali… It is ordered that in bazaars there should be no illumination on Diwali”.
So the banning of firecrackers is nothing new, as it happened even during the Mughal period too when Aurangzeb banned fireworks.