Fire has been marked by many as humanities greatest ever invention. From the rubbing of two stones to the invention of napalm, man has always used fire as an expression of the most carnal sense of power- one untamed by restrictions of form or function.
It’s no surprise then, that man found fire as an expression of the highest sense of achievement. The birth of fireworks, in 7th century China, as a means of artistic expression, have evolved exponentially and yet changed very little.
Technology has inspired man to make pyrotechnics a full-blown spectacle, and at the same point, eliciting the same emotions of awestruck wonder.
In India, widely known for their overblown style of celebrations, fireworks are closely linked with one of the nations biggest festivals- Diwali.
As a sig of the incoming winter, Diwali fills all whom celebrate it with a sense of warmth and hope in a period largely defined by harsh cold. Deeply rooted in family, Diwali is for all intents and purposes, the Indian Christmas.
Much like Christmas all over the world, two things- Presents and fireworks typify it, the latter being more prominent.
Fireworks, or ‘crackers’ as is the colloquialism, are bought by every family. Easy to use and fun to watch, the act of lighting fireworks within one’s own home has a deeper significance.
The core ideal of Diwali, in the present day, has been about family and the celebration of togetherness. While large processions are common, a majority of those who celebrate it, young and old alike, come together as one familial unit and celebrate each other’s company. The fireworks, in all their pomp, are just an extension of this.
The fireworks bought are as varied as the pantheon of Hindu gods. There are chakras (fire wheels), phool jadis (sparklers), anaars (flower-pots), and the most sought after, the rocket. Operated by nothing less than a matchstick and a wicked sense of timing, the firecrackers bring with them a pulsating sense of uncertainty followed by a gratifying cheer of celebration.
The myriad of fireworks proves more than just a spectacle of flashy lights and often-blaring sound. They let every family member revisit days of their childhood, basking in the celebration of yesteryear while seeing their own children and grandchildren experiencing it for the first time. The contrast is sharpened by a widening generation gap, something that is healed only by the union of family and the sense that the innocence of childhood is not yet lost.
Colours wider than the palette can contrive and sounds larger than life itself, eclipse the doom and gloom associated with the oncoming winter. Instead, the display of fireworks and the festival that it accompanies it acts as a celebration of the year gone by.
In a world which is getting impersonal and complicated, the untamed grandeur of fireworks, in whatever part of the world, reminds us of a tradition that essentially brings us all together. A tradition, that transcends the divisions of culture and religion, celebrating what it is, that makes us human.