Loud crackers for Diwali is passe. The trend is to have colourful fireworks without much noise, Prema Manmadhan finds out
A Diwali sans much noise: That seems to be the mood this time, what with the markets hurtling south, job cuts hiding behind a façade of normalcy and the urge to splurge having been arrested with a bit of biting reality.
But deafening noise need not be the benchmark of celebrations, as the current trends show. There can be celebrations, quiet but colourful, very colourful, as the cost goes higher!
Old type out
Eardrum-challenging decibels are passé. Colours are in. Says Praven Pai of Kambar Fireworks, Aluva, whose family has been in this business for more than half a century, “Very few people come to buy the old type fireworks which make a noise and disturb people. It’s risky too.”
Only politicians who want to announce something resort to the old fashioned ones nowadays.
People want colour. Chinese pyrotechnology, with stress on colour, not noise, has taken over traditional know how. But it is not of the computer kind that one saw on TV during the Olympics. This is real.
Even if it is not made in China , but in Sivakasi, the technology is Chinese, says Pai.
“Some pyrotechnics guys went to China , learnt the tricks of the trade a few years ago and started making them in India . There are a few Indian companies making fireworks in China too,” says Pai.
The poothiri that gave momentary cheer to kids for Diwali won’t make them squeal in delight any more.
Listen to the list of stuff for kids now on sale: Kit Kat, (yes, you read right), crackling coconut, butterfly, whistling flower…. Then there is the shell which makes no noise but goes right up into the sky and bursts into colour, like flowers. They cost anywhere between Rs 50-250 depending on how far they go and how many colours they recreate overhead.
Seasonal sellers like Vipin Mehta, say there is a steep fall in demand for Diwali fireworks, as the price has gone up for the most popular type, sparklers. But traders like Pai who sell them throughout the year, say the demand has increased to 50 per cent. Not for the noisy type, but the pretty ones.
“Apart from Onam, Vishu, Christmas and other festivals, we sell fireworks for birthdays and private meets.”
He justifies the increase in prices. “Hasn’t the price of rice increased from Rs 14 a kilo to Rs 22? Then why complain when a flower pot (a type of noiseless fireworks) which was Rs 35 last year sells for Rs 45 now?”
It’s the North Indian community which buys a lot of pyrotechnics stuff, says Shihab Salim of National Traders, Kaloor. An average family spends about Rs 10,000-15,000 every Diwali just for this. Even construction workers from the north spend Rs 500-1000 on pyrotechnics, he says.
What’s the costliest kind in town? Says Shihab, “The ‘pyrothousand’ which costs Rs 10,000. It sends up 1000 shots of multi colours and lasts for 7 minutes. The demand may not have increased for the season, but the overall demand during the year has increased thanks to event managers.”
At corporate functions and weddings, fireworks sans noise have started making their appearances. Even during a housing colony annual gathering, they have fireworks now, says Shihab.
“This year, I have cut down on fireworks,” says Malini Sharma who lives in Panampilly Nagar.
“Of course not, whatever happens, Diwali will be celebrated with lots of fireworks,” says Nandini, a homemaker in Perumbavoor.
While the city folks are consciously scaling down celebrations because of the global crisis and the uncertainty of the future, for the rural populace and those who have not yet figured out whether they might be hit by the financial downturn, it’s business as usual.
After all Diwali is all about lights, not noise. So let the diyas light up homes and the fireworks light up the night sky.