Dear suburbia: Diwali happens every year – deal with it

After last week's Diwali celebrations – and its subsequent complaints – I feel I need to explain something to some members of suburban South Africa: you are not the rule makers of these areas. Besides you, suburbia is populated by some Guy Fawkes celebrators, some Hindus, and some tolerant non-Hindus, and you don't get to decide what's legal and what isn't in this country. We have the Constitution for that.

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated over two days in November, and the third day is marked as the Indian New Year. Of course, we're not in India, but customarily South African Hindus have celebrated on all three days and continue to do so.

The exciting celebrations for the week include the tiring and overwhelming preparation of food and sweet meats that can go on for at least three days prior to the start of Diwali, the lighting of lamps to bring light into the homes of devotees, and the thrilling fireworks displays.

But it doesn't matter how much fun one has during religious holidays – there are some people who set out to dampen the festive spirits around them. As one tweet said on Wednesday morning following Diwali last week: "There's nothing like a religious festival to bring out the racists on social media."

"Post-Diwali Indians' vs dog owners' Facebook updates – as sure as taxes and death," read a friend's Facebook post.


Another post on Facebook spoke about the animals in a friend's neighbourhood who were struggling with the sound of the fireworks. She had to pick one up from the road because he was too scared to find his way home. 

After reading a range of complaints about Diwali fireworks, and complaints about the complaints, I finally decided to comment on that last status, telling a friend's Facebook connections that Diwali was not a surprise event. It happens every year at around the same time and the dates are freely available – just google "Diwali dates 2012". But some people refuse to take responsibility for their pets by taking adequate measures to care for them during inevitable situations such as these, resorting instead to complaining the following day.

After my comment, one man told me to "move to India" because "fireworks are legal there, not in SA". Besides this comment being wrong, it was incredibly offensive. How dare he tell me where I should live?

Firstly, fireworks are legal on 11 days of the year, which includes Guy Fawkes and Diwali. This means you should know to take care of your pets appropriately. Get them sedatives, keep them inside, keep them safe. It's only a few days a year and they will manage.

I don't recall anyone complaining about the noise of the fireworks and the effect it has on their pets on Guy Fawkes, and New Years posts are always about exciting plans for the year ahead, not the disappointment of hearing fireworks and the night of little sleep some pet owners took into the next year. But following Diwali celebrations, you can rest assured the posts about the levels of discomfort people's animals felt the night before will be on display. A disclaimer thrown in, saying you "actually have no problem with Diwali" and you "feel just as angry on Guy Fawkes and New Years", still makes you intolerant.

Besides being told to move to India, one commenter on my friend's post said she wondered "what the mothers of scared toddlers told their children" when the fire crackers went off. Really guys? What do you tell said scared toddler when there's thunder during Jo'burg's fearful summer storms? Do you launch into a tirade on Twitter and Facebook, declaring how unfair it is that "some people" think it's ok to make a noise and scare your children and pets?

I don't condone the use of fireworks illegally. One can always find some people who feel they are above the law and do things irrespective of the guidelines stipulated for their safety and those around them. But we cannot call for a ban on fireworks because of a handful of irresponsible people. Can we demand a ban on driving because of the few drunk drivers who kill? Of course not, we can only take precautions ourselves to ensure we are safe.

The point is that if you know there's an event that will include the use of fireworks, be tolerant and make plans for your animals and children. It happens on only a few days a year, after all. Our Constitution allows for a beautiful thing called variety, so don't shirk your responsibility to your dependents by hating others' actions. It's just not ayoba.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Deshnee Subramany
Deshnee Subramany is our loudest employee. After slogging through various positions in marketing, advertising, radio – and a cow suit – Deshnee finally found her way to the M&G as a content producer in 2010, and was then forced to grow up by filling the position of day editor of the website. Sometimes she puts on her radio voice and guest-hosts the M&G Newsroom.If she was a superhero she would be called the Feeding Frenzy. Her passion is South African politics and revolutions. This comrade loves setting her world alight by discovering new ideas and people, and isnt afraid to laugh the loudest.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC’s rotten apples on the chopping block

Now that the NEC has finalised its step-aside guidelines for those facing corruption charges, a swathe of officials will struggle to cling to their positions

Sisulu and Dlodlo punted to be on their way out

Because President Cyril Ramaphosa won the step-aside order in the ANC’s national executive committee, a cabinet reshuffle looms, with Sisulu and Dlodlo’s names on comrades’ lips

More top stories

Analysts expecting another attack ‘in the next few months’ in...

The extremist insurgency in Mozambique has been an ongoing threat since 2017. SADC needs to act now, say analysts

SIU probes how master of the high court fleeces the...

While the SIU delves into dozens of allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct against officials at the master of the high court, many families have been left destitute after the death of their loved ones.

Barred neonatal visits hurt infants

Some nurses chose to ignore the no-visit rule, and now the health department has allowed mothers to feed their premature infants

SA will miss UN’s clean water targets

Mismanagement, pollution and a water deficit exacerbated by climate change are to blame
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…