14th of January 2020 saw the dawn of Pongal, the festival of harvest. Celebrations soared through the sky, pretty visibly.
The first day of this 3-day celebration is called Bhogi Pongal and people from Tamil Nadu perform rituals to worship the God of rain. For this, they would discard old possessions and acquire new ones to symbolize a new era. Traditionally, the method of discarding is through burning.
From the end of December, Chennai has welcomed smog early in the mornings. But on the 14th of this month, during the celebrations, the smog didn’t seem like it would dissipate anytime soon and continued to stay till afternoon. For the first time, we Chennaites got a glimpse into the everyday life of Delhiites.
Burning Question About Bhogi Culture:
It’s just a tradition, right? We are doing it once in a year, plus this is nothing compared to the industrial waste and the environmental illiteracy among people. But let’s go back to a previous environment and culture clash.
Why were time restrictions implied on fireworks during Diwali? With regard to air pollution control, it was due to the overwhelming amount of hazardous smoke. Simple. And the entire country was made aware of this fact and warned that we were all taking the same path that led Delhi to its present-day scenario.
It is a nightmare for people with asthma and congestion issues, and also old people with breathing problems. The question is-
If we could take Diwali anti-firework pledge seriously, can’t we do the same for Bhogi too? Before Chennai becomes another Delhi?
If the essence of Bhogi is to celebrate the new era and worship God who will bless us with a bountiful harvest, there must be another way to celebrate this occasion!
Bhogi Pongal originally limited to burning of agricultural and biodegradable waste. But since plastic and synthetic items have come into the picture, us trying to continue this tradition on items produced in this generation is nothing short of ridiculous.
If we really do want to keep up the spirit of Bhogi, we could do a few things that are a pretty good substitute, and will definitely please the good god above:
- Donate clothes and other everyday household items to the charities or orphanages. This way, we will be effortlessly bettering the lives of people who can’t even afford to carry out extravagant Pongal rituals.
- For bulky items such as car tyres and other items of unusable plastic, try taking them to a recycling plant. This can be easier if many families in the neighbourhood would come together in collecting such items and transporting them to the nearest recycling centres.
Environmental Contamination Is Not Incomprehensible:
Our pollution checks are going haywire, our actions are frenzied. There are so many campaigns and internet posts on being environmentally conscious, but how much of these do we take seriously?
We still dump Ganesh idols with toxic dyes in the rivers, burst heaps of firecrackers, and make such aforementioned bonfires when we are clearly choking (very slowly for the next 30+ years).
But sticking to Bhogi alone, are people of Tamil Nadu illiterate?
Since the beginning of the cinema industry in Tamil Nadu, it has been the most powerful influencer of people’s attitudes. If Rajinikanth could easily popularize smoking within the youth, why can’t people as influential as he use their money, power and fame to promote such a much-needed agenda? Promoting education can’t solely rely on textbooks and campaigns, we need mass-entertainment at play.
On another note- on the 15th of January, the zip handle of my bags partially melted. That’s when I realized how doomed we are.
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