NYC celebrates Diwali over the Hudson river as India bans firecrackers in their country


The US Embassy in India was shimmering with lights and diyas on the occasion of Diwali on November 4th. The New York City (NYC) celebrated Diwali with a display of fireworks over the Hudson river encouraging Indian Americans to celebrate Diwali while having meaningful conversations about the festival with their friends, neighbors and coworkers from all cultures. It was the first time in history that fireworks of this extent happened on New York's Hudson river apart from the 4th of July celebrations.

The three day Diwali celebrations called "All American Diwali" was held from November 2 through November 4 showcasing a spectacular digital mural on the WTC podium and fireworks over the Hudson river. The event was organized by the South Indian Engagement forum in collaboration with CrossTower, a New Jersey based crypto exchange company.
South Asian Engagement Foundation organizers and the NYPD colorguard stand in front of the digital mural celebrating Diwali shown on WTCwusfnews

With over 2.7 million Indians in the US, a celebration of this grand nature has brought together the two biggest democratic countries, the US and India, to celebrate one of the biggest festivals in the world.

On Wednesday, US politicians, led by New York Congresswoman Carolyn B Maloney, submitted legislation to make Diwali, festival of lights, a federal holiday in the United States. The Deepavali Day Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by the member. A number of congressmen, including Indian-American Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, support the historic measure. Krishnamoorthi also introduced a resolution in the US Congress to recognize the festival of lights' religious and historical significance.

While America was celebrating the festival in its most unique way, many state governments in India banned firecrackers citing air pollution measures. Different states and UTs (Union Territories) in India had different rules for the use, sale and purchase of firecrackers. While some completely banned firecrackers, others allowed for regulated use. States that implemented the ban includes Delhi, Haryana, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra and a few others.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee, for instance, has issued a blanket ban on the bursting of firecrackers in the capital till January 1, 2022. Widespread arrests took place in Delhi ahead of Diwali. The Delhi police arrested 55 people and seized over 6,000 kilograms of firecrackers since the ban on fireworks in the national capital.

The Tamil Nadu government, on the other hand, allowed the bursting of only "green crackers" on November 4 to mark the festival of Diwali. It also announced time slots for the bursting of crackers. Residents were only allowed to burst permissible "green crackers" in two time slots - 7 am to 8 am in the morning and 7 pm to 8 pm in the evening.

While the sale and purchase of firecrackers were banned in 14 districts across the state of Haryana, several incidents of high-intensity cracker bursting were reported from Gurugram and Faridabad. The air quality plunged to the severe category by midnight owing to unfavorable meteorological conditions.

A full list of states/ UTs and their specific rules are available here.

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