The Diwali, or Deepavali, festival is celebrated in India every year. Much like the Christmas and Thanksgiving seasons in the west, Diwali promotes the rekindling of families and friends. The festival occurs over five days, with fireworks being a prominent occurrence throughout, according to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India.
But the festivities come at a price, and with risk. New Delhi is not only the sixth-most populated city in the world, but one of the most polluted cities in India according to The Hindu Business Line.
India's smog levels increase significantly around the time Diwali is celebrated. New Delhi's meteorological department warned older citizens and those with breathing problems to stay clear of the festival. "There is enough moisture in the air and atmospheric holding capacity is quite high for particles emitting from firecrackers," Gufran Beig, a spokesperson for an air quality institution, said, according to Time.
The constant firework use is concerning to many. Air pollution can rise above the accepted standard by five to eight times during Diwali.
India spends over $38 million yearly producing fireworks, most of which sell during the Diwali festival. Indian children become quite accustomed to fireworks, not only because of the festivities, but because many of them manufacture the fireworks themselves, some the victims of child trafficking.
"During the festive season, thousands of children are trafficked and used as cheap labor... and made to work in very hazardous conditions where a blast or tiny spark often leads to accidents," states R.S. Chaurasia of Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an organization that advocates against fireworks as USA Today reports.
The Centre for Science and Environment, based out of New Delhi, reports air pollution causes as many as 10,000-30,000 deaths annually in India.
"In India, we burn more than 40 recognized and other dangerous forms of firecrackers, one louder than the other and all of them releasing toxic fumes into the dense winter air[...]The situation worsens with vehicular pollution and smoke from open burning. Calm and cool weather blocks the dispersal of smoke and pollutants, giving rise to stubborn and toxic smog," the CSE states, according to The Sun Daily.