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Festival of fright

Seona Smiles
Sunday, October 29, 2017

It's over, okay. Diwali 2017 is finished, gone, sa oti, kalaas.

So stop letting off fireworks.

I'm not just being grumpy. I like a pretty show of coloured sparks and even a mild explosion of star showering rockets.

But not the booming and banging that seems to be increasing in decibel strength with each Diwali.

I suppose it is just me being grumpy to a certain point because I had a rather dismal Diwali this year.

The preparations went fine, lots of sweeties and snacks and a splendid array of curries when I suddenly felt ill. Very ill, with a horrid stomach upset.

No need to go into detail, let's just say that guests and other household members apparently had a good time on the veranda while I lay on a bed of discomfort, if not agony.

I had little else to do except groan faintly and lie there listening to the mayhem outside my window.

I did have company. The dogs decided to join me the moment the first loud bang echoed around the neighbourhood.

The skinny one scrabbled her way beneath the bed, the chubby one fitted her head and front paws under. If they had just stayed there it would have been all right, but no. Whenever there was a brief pause in the action they would hopefully pop their heads up to see if I thought it was worthwhile them trying to go outside for their share of the sweeties.

The next explosion would stop that nonsense and back under the bed they would scrabble and whine. I don't know where the cat went.

One of my friends declined our Diwali party invitation because she had to sit home with her hands over her very nervous dog's ears. I refuse to do that, mostly on the grounds I have only two hands and four dog ears to cover.

Anyway, they've now seen a picture of a Suva pet wearing noise cancelling earphones and are showing an annoying interest in the idea.

My approach is to suggest the authorities involved seriously consider banning the big bangers and perhaps reducing the number of days people are permitted to let them off.

The thing is, we aren't just talking about Diwali here. Some people seem to think any occasion is appropriate for fireworks.

Just say we start with Diwali. For weeks before, we are startled by banging and crashing from the early evening until around 9-10pm. The closer Diwali gets, the later the booming and cracking goes on.

The worst are the 20 or 30 shot things that sound like a terrorist invasion and set the dogs howling for mercy. Surely we can have a celebration without those.

It takes a while for the Diwali spirit to die down, people were still letting off bangers down our way last Friday night.

Then we have the excuse of the British Guy Fawkes night on November 5, when children who know nothing at all about the Gunpowder Plot make bonfires and let off crackers.

Next thing we know we will be firing up for Christmas, literally. I don't know how fireworks got involved with Christmas, most people are trying to get their children to sleep so the Christmas Father can get the pressies under the tree or in the stockings. They don't want their babies waked up by loud explosions, any more than Mary did, no doubt.

Right after that comes New Year — traditionally a midnight fireworks affair. I'm usually asleep by then anyway, so if there are just a few rockets it's no problem. But some folks just have to get loud about it and again we have the crashing and banging and 21 boom salutes.

Chinese New Year comes a little later, but that is a one day effort, mainly strings of crackers let off during daylight hours and not really something to complain about.

But really, it's any excuse — birthdays, holidays, rugby wins, whatever.

Do people buy a year's supply at Diwali and continue to light them on any given occasion?

There is another side effect that dog owners suffer. Having once wheedled their way inside the house on the legitimate grounds of fear and terror of loud explosions and what looks like an alien space invasion, they think they are welcome.

I am sick and tired of finding a dog under the table, or my feet being tickled by dog whiskers when I sit at the desk, or being alarmed by canine snoring under the bed.

I'm really not grumpy enough to want to ban all fireworks, but for goodness sake, get rid of the pounding, crashing, booming explosions that turn Diwali from a Festival of Light to a Festival of Fright.

*Seona Smiles is a regular contributor to this column.

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