The ongoing pandemic, which had brought our lives to a sudden halt some months back, is now prompting us to adapt to new changes. Like various other aspects of our lives that have altered, Diwali this year is also going to be different.
In several states, firecrackers have been banned for good. The restrictions in place call for a greener festival.
This year, a group of mostly women from as many as 40 families has come up with a unique idea to celebrate a green Diwali — BeejParva or seed crackers.
The group in question is a part of the Gram Art Project (GAP), a collective of farmers, painters, social workers, and writers from Paradsinga village in Chhindwara district, on the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Using recyclable material embedded with seed balls, the group has made exact replicas of firecrackers.
“We all have a certain nostalgia connected with Diwali. Diwali reminds us of lights and crackers, there are some emotions around the festival. But the kind of damage that firecrackers can cause is irreparable, so we decided to do something that gives us great Diwali vibes, but in a greener way,” Shweta Bhattad, 36, a member of the group, tells Platocast.
“Every year, hundreds of animals suffer from sound pollution. Birds die, trees catch fire. There is unbearable pollution in the environment. It is wrong on our part to harm the environment and other species just for the sake of our own enjoyment,” she adds.
The uniqueness about these seeds crackers, which come in seven different variations, is that we can sow them in a pot and nourish them until they grow into edible plants.
The types of crackers and various plant species include the micro-green ladi. These series of seed crackers have as many as seven types of seeds in them, including red amaranthus, amaranth, fenugreek, common purslane, mustard, green amaranthus, and spinach.
“These crackers are beautiful. Of the seven pairs of micro-green seeds meant for each day of the week, all you need to do is separate each pair, sow them in separate pots and nourish them on a regular basis. In a month’s time, they will be consumable,” explains 15-year-old Tanu Vadaskar, a seed saver and the daughter of a farm labourer.
It does not end here, as there more seed crackers including the phoenix chakkar (onion seeds), hemp bomb (roselle seeds), golden shower (amaranthus seeds), laxmi bomb (bauhinia racemosa seeds), coriander tikli (coriander seeds), and cucumber rocket (cucumber and green sorrel seeds).
“You will be surprised at how the growth of these plants has been designed. They give you exactly the kind of feel that firecrackers do, and yet they are so harmless,” Ashika Dwivedi, 18, a student and a seed collector, says. “When you light the anar firecracker (flower pot), for instance, it forms a beautiful shower of colours. When watered and nourished into a plant, the golden shower (amaranthus) forms the same pattern.”
“We want people to realise that instead of harming other creatures, Diwali should rejuvenate us and renew life. Instead of polluting the environment, we should focus on creating a greener planet,” says 18-year-old Vaishnavi Raut, who is involved in farming and production of seed crackers.
Besides seed crackers, the group has also prepared seed-sweets that can replace the expensive Diwali sweets available in the markets during the festival. These are basically seed balls made from waste paper, and are biodegradable.
“You can sow these seeds and water them, and consume them after they are nourished,” says Pooja Shinde, 24. “We offer various seed-sweets including palm-oil free laddu with tomato and radish seeds, what-less cookies with brinjal and common purslane seeds, sugar-free barfi with okra and amaranthus seeds, and sovereign cham-cham with chilli and carrot seeds.”
Pooja adds: “All the machines we use to make our products are hand-operated. We do not use electricity in the production process.”
Let this Diwali be greener, cleaner, brighter and happier!
To place an order, visit GAP’s website: https://gramartproject.org/
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