By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, October 19, 2017: Diwali is the season of pujas and festivities, diyas and lights, rangoli and colour; celebrated with new clothes and gifts, sweets and food and, of course, family.

However this festival of happiness all around turned out to tragic death of nine persons in the state in the last two days. At least seven persons, including a minor were killed while nearly nine injured in a massive explosion at a cracker unit in Bahabalpur village of Balasore district on Wednesday.

On the same day, a minor girl was killed while four others were injured critically in explosion while they were making crackers at Bilipada near Pipili in Puri district. Again explosion took place at a cracker manufacturing unit in Raniguda area of Rayagada district during which a person sustained critical injuries on his palms.

On October 9, the Supreme Court reinstated a ban on the sale of firecrackers during Diwali celebrations in Delhi and New Capital Region (NCR), saying it wants to assess the difference in air quality in the highly polluted region. Later, the court refused to withdraw its order when a group of traders filed a petition against the ban.

The order followed the Supreme Court’s temporary relaxation of the 2016 ban in September, when the bench had said that a complete ban would be “extreme” and stressed the need for a phased reduction in the use of fire crackers.

However, crackers have been proven to have adverse effects on the environment. Further, the impact of crackers is felt immediately with an immediate spike in cases of respiratory disorders like asthma.

In fact, traditionally Diwali is the festival of lights – the lights to mark the anniversary of the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya and at a philosophical level to mark the ascendance of light over darkness (Tamaso Ma Jyotirgamaya). Bursting of crackers is in no way an integral part of Diwali which is celebrated in different ways across the country. This includes mahurat or new-year trading on the stock market and by Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja in other parts of the country.

Cracker bursting is a recent phenomenon and so long as it was under check it was fine. But now-a-days it has gone out of control and hence the need for control. Anyway it’s a good idea to go back to eco-friendly ways of celebrating Diwali using flowers and plants for decoration, experts said.