Amid a chorus of popular songs, hand-clapping and lots of flowers, widows of this Hindu holy city celebrated Diwali on Sunday evening by lighting only earthen lamps and candles in keeping with the Supreme Court directives for ensuring a pollution-free celebration.
This assumes significance as the bursting of crackers during Diwali adversely affects the environment and the apex court has advocated opting the eco-friendly way.
Lalita Adhikary and Kanak Lata, who are staying in a nearby ashram for more than 30 years now, maintained that they are enjoying the cracker-less Diwali this time as noise and smoke out of bursting crackers creates problems for them.
Likewise, Draupadi, Sadhna, Garabani and Basanti, all in their sixties and seventies, were of the view that there is more fun in celebrating Diwali with diyas and flowers than bursting crackers.
"We want to continue with cracker-less Diwali in future also," they said in unison.
The pollution-free celebrations were held for the first time by the widows in the light of the apex court's reference to the air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR during and immediately after Diwali last year.
The court observed that due to the adverse effects of fire crackers, "the air quality deteriorates abysmally and alarmingly and the city chokes thereby".
The courtyard of 400-year-old Gopinath temple was tastefully decorated with rangoli and the earthen lamps were lit as the sun set on the horizon. The widows later sang bhajan.
"With an aim to bringing a ray of happiness at their twilight years, we came up with this unique idea to organise the festival of lights, especially for the widows," said founder of Sulabh movement Bindeshwar Pathak.
Sulabh provides medical facilities and vocational training for widows here, besides meeting their day-to-day needs so that they do not feel left out during their twilight years.
(Arun Kumar Das can be contacted at email@example.com)
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