Diwali has become a platform for racist anti-animal cruelty crusaders
After two decades of watching the antics of intolerance at Diwali, I have decided to reflect on the festival and the annual resurrection of what appear to be racially motivated attacks on the Hindu community using the fireworks argument. ‘artifice.
But I want to unpack all the elements in a way that deviates from the usual complaints about animal cruelty and gets to the heart of this issue.
Diwali dates are determined every year
If your understanding of Diwali transcends the usual complaints about fireworks and animal cruelty (while simultaneously savoring the delicious treats and loot), you would have noticed that Diwali never falls on the same day every year.
Diwali traditionally falls on the first day of the new moon in October/November, which is also a night when the moon appears invisible from Earth, a perfect day to observe a festival of lights.
Annual Attack of Fireworks Complaints
But every year before Diwali, South African Indians must prepare for the influx of fireworks and complaints of animal cruelty, which over the years has marred the festive nature of the festival of lights. and left a bad taste in the mouths of people watching the event.
I am bitterly disappointed because over the past 20 years I have witnessed how this beautiful 5,000 year old cultural celebration has been regularly hijacked and turned into a lobbying platform for animal rights.
I am especially angered that this unfortunate association with animal cruelty is a result of the power that white privilege wields to this day.
This is not an attack on the white community, and it goes without saying that not all white people are racist or complain during Diwali.
That said, I think those complaining urgently need a step back.
Here are some perspectives for animal rights crusaders
What are your options legally?
What do people who talk about fireworks (only) on Diwali every year get out of it?
The answer is nothing but an outlet to express racially motivated hatred in a more palatable form than outright racism, pairing it with a crusade for animal rights.
Unlike New Zealand where fireworks are banned, there has been no revision of the laws to implement a ban on fireworks of any kind, even after two decades of complaints about the effect that beatings have on animals, dogs in particular.
Frankly, no political party wants to rewrite the constitution in a way that will effectively alienate large numbers of voters by trampling on their right to practice their culture.
Even if a right-wing or left-wing party comes to power, I highly doubt that will result in an outright ban on fireworks.
(There wouldn’t be the kind of pomp and ceremonial accolades that characterize sports game celebrations without a few fireworks.)
So legally I don’t see any kind of talk to ban the use of fireworks in the future.
Hindus are ‘cruel to their pets’
The other thing that scratches my nerves is the unspoken assumption that Hindus are either mean or insensitive animal owners or that we are insensitive to animal suffering.
Here I must point out that a large portion of practicing Hindus are vegetarians, so they are not part of the daily slaughter of animals for sustenance.
Non-vegetarians like me observe several days and even months without meat as the culture demands.
Still, I noticed that there were few to no complaints from the vegetarian and vegan communities about the effects of two nights of fireworks on the general well-being of pets.
I marvel at the hypocrisy of people who can congregate around the braai fires while animal flesh burns above the flames for their dinners, and how they can mourn lazily over the Diwali fireworks that cause stress to their pets, but make no effort to adjust their diet. being meat-free as a reflection of their so-called love for animals.
According to the World Health Forum, “about 50 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for food – a figure that excludes male chicks and unproductive hens killed during egg production.”
Nearly 1.5 billion pigs are killed to feed the growing appetite for pork, and almost half a billion sheep are slaughtered each year in slaughterhouses.
“India, although rapidly catching up with China in terms of population, still consumes a tiny fraction of the world’s meat,” the WEF said.
When Hindus aren’t castigated for their use of fireworks during Diwali, they are often mocked and ridiculed for worshiping animals.
Hinduism has a rich history of various animal worships spanning thousands of years, with a day dedicated to dog worship in Nepal.
We have calmed our pets when fireworks go off and during thunderstorms
Every Diwali our dogs were sedated and locked in my room with loud music to mask the bang.
My mother also gave them big bones to distract them if the sedatives weren’t effective.
My brother, dad and I took turns sitting with our dogs as fireworks erupted in the neighborhood.
We also did this every New Years, Guy Fawkes, and especially during thunderstorms.
So the prevailing attitude towards Diwali also leads me to believe that complainers don’t want or dislike having to shell out money for calming pet medications designed for stressful situations, like a night fireworks or thunderstorms.
To be blunt, owning a pet is an expensive business and you shouldn’t own a pet if you can’t afford to provide them with the necessities to relieve their stress during these times.
Is your daily level of pet care up to par?
The viciousness of the complaints to the Hindu community has also made me wonder over the years about the general level of care that these precious fur babies are used to on a daily basis.
When I see some of the hate speech on social media, I wonder how often squealing owners pick up their pet’s feces in the garden or let their pets navigate a minefield before they can relief for weeks. end.
Or how often do they wash and clean their pet’s bedding? When was the last time they bathed their animals? Are these precious pets up to date with basic animal care like vaccines and pest control?
Do they make efforts to regularly entertain their pets, such as walking them, or are these animals confined behind property gates with little or no room to run around freely?
Are they as rigorous with their daily pet care as they seem to be on Diwali?
Even as an eternal optimist and someone who generally gives people the benefit of the doubt, I can’t bring myself to believe that animals get anything close to this kind of pet care.
Kudos to those who do, because pets are like children, except they walk on all fours.
Highveld Storms and Animal Care
Twelve years ago I moved from Durban to Johannesburg. The annual summer season brings with it the most terrifying thunderstorms I have ever experienced.
Deafening thuds that have me cowering in fear, my eyes closed and a pillow stuck over my head in a futile attempt to block out the chilling thumps these storms bring upon the Highveld.
Yet complaints after thunderstorms are limited to infrastructure damage rather than animal disturbances. I should also point out that I’ve seen social media posts pleading with pet owners to keep their pets inside the house during extremely cold winters and scary storms.
I’ve read heartbreaking tales of neighbors hearing pets frantically scratching on house doors only to be let inside when mother nature does her thing.
You don’t complain after thunderstorms
I also understood that people do not complain about animal cruelty after thunderstorms because it is an event beyond human control and therefore transcends the divisive politics that has become our reality.
It may not be the politics of apartheid that foster divisions, but the system of hatred that apartheid built has such a solid foundation that it has endured for generations.
Post-apartheid South Africa has forced everyone to accept that racial segregation is over and will never return in the future.
But that energy of hatred and intolerance never really left us as a nation, it was just buried within us, with no way out now that the political platform has become rooted in inclusivity rather than segregation.
This intolerance finds an outlet during Diwali, however, as those who complain end up trashing an entire faith in the name of anti-animal cruelty, (while asking their Hindu neighbors and colleagues to send Diwali parcels).
In recent years, the fireworks backlash has spread to include Guy Fawkes and New Year’s Eve. with animal cruelty.
One day we will do better, but not in my lifetime
I believe that one day we will resume this glorious festival which ultimately signifies a triumph of good over evil and a new beginning without having to deal with racist attitudes.
But it won’t be in our time and I may never live to see it because generational biases still run deep.
I have such faith that our future generations are better than us. They will not be tolerant of different religions, but will wholeheartedly accept them.
While this generation must continue to unlearn our racialized view of everything, we must challenge the status quo and stand up to past injustices that seek to come out and undo the work we do to live more inclusively.
To those who are guilty of perpetuating racially motivated attacks on the Hindu faith and the people who celebrate, perhaps you never stopped to consider all the elements of your argument.
But, if you’ve taken the time to read this, to me it’s a testament that you’re willing to at least acknowledge that your anti-cruelty sentiments may have been misguided in this argument.
This is a step in the right direction, but there is still work to be done if we are to correct past attitudes that have no place in the future.