After two decades of observing the shenanigans of Diwali intolerance, I decided to pen my thoughts on the festival and use the fireworks argument to make a resurgence of what appear to be racially motivated attacks.
But I want to unpack all the elements away from the usual complaints about animal cruelty and get to the heart of this issue.
Diwali dates are determined every year
If your understanding of Diwali goes beyond the usual complaints about fireworks and animal cruelty (while enjoying delicious sweets and loot at the same time), you would have noticed that Diwali never falls on the same day every year.
Diwali traditionally falls on the first day of the new moon in October/November, which is also the night when the moon appears invisible from Earth, a perfect day to witness a festival of lights.
Fireworks complaints attack of the year
But every year before Diwali, South African-born Indians face an influx of fireworks and animal abuse complaints, which over the years have soured the celebratory nature of the festival of lights and left a bad taste in people’s mouths. Event.
I am deeply disappointed because over the last 20 years I have seen how this beautiful 5,000 year old cultural celebration has been routinely hijacked and turned into a platform for animal rights advocacy.
It particularly angers me that this unfortunate association with animal abuse is a result of the power that white privilege holds so far.
This is not an attack on the white community, and it goes without saying that not all white people are racist or complain during Diwali.
That’s right, it seems to me that those who complain have a great need for perspective.
Here are some viewpoints from animal rights crusaders
What are your options legally?
What do people who say fireworks (only) get away with every year on Diwali?
The answer is nothing, but an outlet to express racially motivated hatred in a more palatable form than blatant racism by linking it to an animal rights crusade.
Unlike in New Zealand, where fireworks are banned, no law has been revised to ban fireworks, despite two decades of complaints about the effects of the noise on animals, particularly dogs.
Frankly, no political party wants to rewrite the constitution in a way that will effectively alienate a large swath of voters by suppressing their right to practice their culture.
Even if a party on the right or the left comes to power, I highly doubt it will lead to a complete ban on fireworks.
(It wouldn’t be the celebrations seen at sports matches without a few fireworks)
So legally, I don’t see any talk of banning the use of fireworks in the future.
Hindus are “cruel to their pets”
The other thing that gets on my nerves is that we don’t think that Hindus are bad or insensitive pet owners or that we are insensitive to animal suffering.
Here, I must point out that a large proportion of practicing Hindus are vegetarian, so they are not part of the daily slaughter of animals for food.
Non-vegetarians like myself observe several days and even months without meat when the culture demands it.
However, I have noticed little to no complaints from the vegetarian and vegan community about the effects of the two nights of fireworks on the overall well-being of household pets.
I am amazed at the hypocrisy of people who can gather around a braai while they dine on animal meat over the fire, and how they can idly lament that Diwali fireworks stress their pets, but make no effort to make their diet meat. -as a reflection of the free people’s love for animals.
According to the World Health Forum, “about 50 billion chickens are killed for food each year, a figure that excludes male chicks killed during egg production and non-producing hens.”
Nearly 1.5 billion pigs are killed to feed the hog famine, and nearly half a billion sheep are killed in slaughterhouses each year.
“India, while rapidly catching up with China in terms of population, still consumes a small fraction of the world’s meat,” the WEF said.
When Hindus are not lambasted for using fireworks on Diwali, they are often mocked and derided for worshiping animals.
Hinduism has a rich history of worshiping various animals for thousands of years, with a day dedicated to the worship of dogs in Nepal.
We comfort our pets during fireworks and thunderstorms
Every Diwali our dogs were sedated and locked in my bedroom with loud music to hide the beatings.
My mother would also give them large bones to distract them if the tranquilizers were ineffective.
My brother, father, and I took turns sitting with our dogs while fireworks went off in the neighborhood.
We also did this every New Year, Guy Fawkes, and especially during thunderstorms.
So the prevailing attitude towards Diwali also leads me to believe that complainers don’t want or don’t like shelling out money for pet medication designed for stress relief on a night like fireworks or thunderstorms.
To put it bluntly, pet ownership is expensive and you shouldn’t be a pet owner if you can’t get the necessities needed to relieve stress during these times.
Is your daily pet care routine lacking?
The slyness of the complaints directed at the Hindu community over the years also made me wonder about the overall level of care that these precious fur babies get on a daily basis.
When I see some of the hate speech on social media, I wonder how often whiny owners pick up their pet’s excrement from the yard or let their animals roam a field of mess before calming down for weeks. the end
Or how often they clean and wash the pet bed? When was the last time the animals were bathed? Are these precious pets up to date with basic pet care, such as vaccinations and pest control?
Do they make an effort to entertain their pets regularly, such as taking them out for walks, or are these animals confined behind property gates with little or no space to roam freely?
Are they as strict with everyday pet care as they seem on Diwali?
As someone who is eternally optimistic and generally gives people the benefit of the doubt, I cannot believe that animals receive this kind of animal care.
Credit those who make pets because they are like children, except they walk on all fours.
Highveld thunderstorms and pet care
Twelve years ago I moved from Durban to Johannesburg. Every year the summer season brings with it the scariest storms I have ever experienced.
The deafening blows that make me curl up in fear, eyes closed and pillow stuck over my head in a futile attempt to block out the terrifying blows these storms bring upon the Highveld.
However, complaints following thunderstorms are limited to infrastructure damage rather than animal incidents. I should also point out that I have seen posts on social media asking pet owners to keep their pets indoors during cold winters and scary storms.
I’ve read harrowing accounts of neighbors hearing their pets screeching furiously at their front doors to get inside when Mother Nature is doing her thing.
You don’t complain after the storm
I also understand that people don’t complain about animal cruelty after the storm because this is an event beyond human control and therefore transcends the divisive politics that have become our reality.
It may not be the politics of apartheid that drives divisions, but the system of hatred that apartheid built has such strong foundations that it has endured for generations.
Post-apartheid South Africa was forced to accept that racial segregation is over and will not rear its head in the future.
But that energy of hatred and intolerance never left us as a nation, it just buried itself within us, with no outlet now that the political platform was rooted in inclusivity rather than segregation.
This intolerance, however, finds an outlet during Diwali, when complainers trash the entire faith in the name of animal cruelty (while asking Hindu neighbors and colleagues to send them Diwali packages).
In recent years, the reaction to fireworks has included Guy Fawkes and New Years. But that only happened because of the clapback from the Hindu community, who would like to observe this festival without its horrible association with animal cruelty.
One day we will do better, but not in my lifetime
I believe that one day, after all, we will recover this glorious holiday that represents the triumph of good and a new beginning without having to deal with racist attitudes.
But this will not be in our time and I may never live to see it because generational prejudices are still deep.
I believe that our future generations are better than us. They will not be tolerant of different beliefs, but wholeheartedly accepted.
While this generation must continue to unlearn the racial perspective of everything, we must challenge the status quo and confront the injustices of the past that seek to come out and undo the work we are doing in order to experience it in a more inclusive way.
To those who are guilty of perpetuating racially motivated attacks on the Hindu faith and the people who celebrate it, perhaps you have never stopped to consider all the elements of your argument.
But, if you took the time to read this, it’s proof to me that you’re at least willing to admit that your anti-atrocity sentiments may be wrong in this argument.
It is a step in the right direction, but more work needs to be done if we want to correct past attitudes that have no place in the future.