Saturday, January 2, 2010


Diwali 2009 in Johannesburg was very, very quiet. The usual booms and flashes of fireworks were conspicuously absent. Diwali is the festival of lights, and one traditional way of celebrating this is to set off fireworks and celebrate with family and friends, surrounded by the symbolic clay lamps (or in more recent times, tea lights), or diyas. The reason that something so quintessential was suddenly missing is that fireworks are now illegal in Johannesburg (and, I think, in South Africa).
For years, the radios were bombarded by call ins on the morning after Diwali, all complaining about the effect that the fireworks had on their pets. It seems finally to have paid off. But then, come New Year's Eve, it's suddenly okay to buy fireworks from 'licensed' retailers, and indeed, as various clocks impelled us into 2010 in their own time, the joyous fireworks filled the horizon. But hold on, fireworks are illegal, aren't they? It seems there's something of a double standard here.
Whatever people do to keep their pets from freaking out on New Year's eve, should be adequate to prevent trauma from distant fireworks on Diwali, and any other major celebration that inspires fireworks. Yes, I can understand that perhaps more people celebrate New Year's eve, but I'm not exactly talking about minorities here either. That's blatant and tactless discrimination.

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