Plummeting temperatures, the lingering smell of gunpowder in the air, booming confectionary businesses and buildings adorned with lofty decorations - all mark the arrival of Diwali.
As people gear up to celebrate the festival of lights with full pomp and splendour, it is not lost on us that in this show of forced cheer and revelry, the true spirit of Diwali celebrations has disappeared.
Diwali culminates in a brilliant display of fireworks. Although the importance of celebrating an eco- friendly Diwali is stressed on every year, firecrackers and such explosives easily maneuver their way into the Indian markets and are often smuggled into the country to meet the ever increasing demand for fireworks during the festive season.
Accompanied by the usual deafening noise and an air thick with smoke and pollutants, these firecrackers are a source of great discomfort, not just for the aged and the ailing, but also for our furry friends.
While there is still hope for pet animals, strays are prone to suffering more as they have no place to go. Diwali, which was earlier associated with spreading love and good cheer, has become a busy time for animal activists, who have pledged to rescue animals from abuse during this boisterous festival.
The alarming rate of increase in the number of pet cats and dogs who have gone missing during Diwali is due to the fact that every year, countless animals lose their homes during this time, some, never to find their way back.
Even after strengthening animal protection laws, miscreants have been known to tie crackers around the animal’s neck or mouth and then set them ablaze, resulting in the animal getting fatally injured.
A dog’s ears are more sensitive to the loud, sporadic noises from the fire crackers, say animal experts. The constant booming noise caused by the bursting of crackers is stressful enough for them to seek refuge under the bed or hide behind furniture.
Veterinarians say that some dogs might exhibit behavioral changes and may even lose eyesight if exposed to firecrackers burst at close proximity.
While many veterinarians recommend that administering mild sedatives or tranquilizers to pets before the fireworks are ignited might help them cope with anxiety, studies have shown that in many cases, sedatives heighten noise sensitivity in firework phobic pets while decreasing their ability to respond physically to external stimuli.
The animal, then experiences something similar to a paralysis, where it can hear the noises but finds itself incapable of responding to it.
So, let us be humane this Diwali and think about the plight of our four legged friends. Let us, once again, rekindle that little spark of goodwill and harmony that is the essence of this festival.