Diwali the festival of lights comes bestowing, merriment and festivity .The people were seen shoppingh different kinds of things as Diwali is also a celebration of prosperity in the day of “Dan Dharas” and the subsequent day’s festivity went on as people fired till late evening hours. This is afforded only by the affluent Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists to mark different historical events as they all celebrated the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil, hope over despair. Diwali is one of the most significant festivals in Indian culture and tradition.
It is important to look into the other side of the city dwellers who don’t fall into this cultural religious practice while on this auspicious day people decorated their houses with candles and colourful lights and huge firework displays are held , the families feast and share gifts. The other side of the city slept in the dark. In India this festival is celebrated on a grand scale by the rich and middle class people. The people on the other hand can’t afford to purchase clothes, buy sweets and make food. In order to find out how street people celebrate diwali in Delhi we met several people near “Arjan Garh” metro station, when we met street dwellers they looked just like how they normally would do. They were not wearing new clothes nor did they make sweets and good foods. These are the people of this metropolitan city who are also part of the society helping it sustain in its clean and healthy environment as they are the rag pickers and scavengers who keep cleaning it regularly and happen to be living inside the muck and misery.
In order to reveal and find out the reality of this people, on the eve of Deepawali night we happen to meet some street dwellers in dark corners of the metropolis city, when every house, shops, offices were decorated with candles, lamps to make festive mood brighter, the echoing of fire cracks engulfed the living streets with desperate noise echoed in the gloomy streets where this people lived without lamps. Their only means of light is being gathered from the far away lights of the streets. As for this people everything was not owned by them. They got everything from the dust bins off from the streets, they looked at the lights and the noise of fireworks felt happy though they very well aware of their own belongings and where abouts. When everywhere fire cracks were noising then dark streets were telling their own stories how Diwali is being celebrated by poor without deeps (candle) in New Delhi.
New Delhi the great” Indra Prasth” attracted people from all over for different purposes and they happen to be victims of lost destinations because of poverty and illiteracy and lived back here and died here unknowingly. You will find many migrants refugees, labourers living in streets and railway platforms.
No candles were burnt in this dark streets on the festival of lights
Sumit aged 25, came to Delhi when he was 21 years old to find out some job, after the death of his parents he left his ancestral state UP and started working with truck conductor in New Delhi, by the time he lost his job and life became so hard to live after sometime he started gathering plastic wastes in streets for his livelihood, there is no shelter for Sumit, he lives in open sky, every night he collect plastic wastes to earn some pennies so that he could buy some food from market.
“We can’t celebrate Diwali because we can’t afford to buy new clothes and buy some good foods and sweets, this day is common for us like other days, even we don’t have money to buy single diya (candle), now this day is special for me because I did not have my food yet, whenever the festivals come it really hurts me because we can’t do anything so these streets are our life and the space for sleep instead of big rooms, I know will die here forever and nobody will come to bury ” said Sumit.
There are several people like Sumit in New Delhi living on dark streets who can’t celebrate Diwali or any other festivals. On the other hand there are so many rich people who celebrate Diwali fantastically. But the poor pavement dwellers blame it on sins in past birth.
(The author a freelancer has contributed this essay on Diwali festivity exclusively to “Kashmir Horizon”. His view are personal)