Fiji Times

SUVA. Fiji (Oct. 31) – The curfew on firecrackers during the festival of lights, Diwali, celebrated tomorrow, is a timely welcome. But it is still disappointing that the Government has not completely banned the sale or use of firecrackers.

As any right serving Hindu would agree, firecrackers have no real significance with Diwali.

In fact, firecrackers are a nuisance and a disturbing factor, often the cause of misery for families through loss of lives and property.

There is undoubtedly a high risk of fire starting particularly in areas hit by the dry spell. The danger firecrackers pose to lives and properties is high. No doubt the National Fire Authority would be worried at this time of the year. But the tragic events of past years have not convinced the authorities concerned to entirely ban firecrackers.

The Fiji Retailers Association once again has shown no responsibility by calling on the Government to allow amnesty to let shopkeepers sell off their old stock.

Once again the retailers have demonstrated that they care more about making money than being responsible citizens. Association president Himmat Lodhia said while it supported the ban, the association was concerned at members being unable to recoup money spent on old stock of firecrackers.

Mr Lodhia should know that common sense approach can never be taken when it comes to dangerous weapons and firecrackers is considered just that.

Firecrackers can be used as weapons and festivity as a reason to distract peace and harmony of neighbours, giving reason to be mischievous.

Lives and properties have been lost during Diwali because some inconsiderate and mischievous people would turn this deeply religious festival of lights into a festival of explosions with firecrackers.

There has always been an excessive and uncontrolled use of firecrackers, depriving this joyous and religious occasion of its true meaning and significance. Prominent Hindu religious leaders have often reminded us that the use of firecrackers has no religious significance for Hindus celebrating Diwali, maintaining that firecrackers are just money making for shopkeepers and nuisance for others.

On Diwali night, you don't have to go far to watch unsupervised children on the streets.

It is too late this year to completely ban firecrackers because the retailers have already stocked up and are bombarding shoppers with their explosive sales.

But it's not too late to set down strict guidelines on the use of firecrackers, especially by children and others who buy them not to celebrate Diwali but to cause mischief and pain.

Making sure firecrackers are used within the strictest of boundary is most important.

Families should be allowed to celebrate Diwali in a spirit of togetherness and in peace not in a war zone.

Fiji has enough wars without firecrackers.

November 1, 2005

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