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EDITORIAL : Conducting festivals in an eco-friendly manner

7 May 2015 07:46 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Certain cultural aspects associated in celebrating religious festivals need a critical look. We acknowledge the fact that these festivals, which are essentially religious by nature, also have integral cultural aspects attached to them. Hence, by critiquing the way these festivals are celebrated today, we are not even remotely attempting to establish that they should be celebrated strictly as religious or spiritual festivals. 

You need Vesak lanterns, pandals, dansals and elaborated Vesak zones. An organized religion needs such external elements to be its vehicle to deliver the underlying philosophy it was based on, to its followers. But at the same time attention should be paid to proper organization to prevent unruly motorists, garbage mountains, fatal road accidents, unending traffic and noise pollution.  Especially during Vesak when we mark the Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana of the Buddha who brought about a religion backed by the most profound and deep philosophy. 

However trivial or frivolous it may sound—specially during a time when the whole country is discussing and debating constitutional and electoral amendments—the Government, should come up with  guidelines regarding how all religious festivals should be held and celebrated. 

This time, the Colombo Municipal Council made it compulsory for all those who were planning to host dansals within the Colombo municipality area to register their dansals with the CMC to ensure food safety. The 90 odd dansals registered with the CMC were granted immediate permission and the CMC said Public Health Inspectors would visit these dansals to check on the food. For a start, this was a good move. We hope other municipalities and local government bodies will follow suit next Vesak. 



But the time has come to think beyond that. The traffic and the road accidents caused by some of these dansals should also be taken into consideration. It is not an uncommon site to see four or five dansals within a radius of one kilometre during Vesak, especially in Colombo. This leads to heavy traffic and makes life miserable for those who travel on these roads on a day-to-day basis. In such traffic jams, the motorists tend to grow restless which could lead to accidents as well. Therefore the authorities should give some thought to formulating guidelines pertaining to the distance between two dansals. 

Due to the festive mood the police too tend to turn a blind eye to unruly motorcyclists and three-wheel drivers who pull off crazy manoeuvres on the roads risking their lives as well as those of others. However, the Police should be somewhat strict to discourage the unruly motorists. 

Meanwhile, another serious matter that needs to be given attention is litter created after such events. Even those who look for garbage cans to dump litter during other days, think it is fine to dump their litter wherever they want during these festive times. We believe the same way the yahapalana government tries to clean Parliament, they will enforce the already existing litter laws and strengthen them if the need arises. 

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