The Science behind tradition of Deepavali fireworks or Diwali crackers

Every Hindu tradition, followed over the centuries, have scientific reasons behind them. We had discussed some of them in the previous posts where I had explained the scentific reasons behind rangoli tradition, Om recitation tradition, and more, in the following series:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/category/india/ancient-wisdom/


Since the discussions & debates over Deepavali firecrackers have been on the rise these days, I felt this is the right time to take up this topic and analyze it from different aspects. Previously, we had discussed about the history of fireworks and examined evidences which prove that fireworks have been a part of Indian culture since time immemorial in the following article:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/fireworks-part-indian-culture/

What we had discussed previously in the above mentioned article was the historical aspect. Today, let’s look into the scientific aspect.

Is there any scientific reason behind the tradition of Deepavali fireworks?

Yes. There is. Before delving into it, let’s first examine the condition of water bodies throughout the year. As all of us might have noticed, there would hardly be any stagnant water during summer. Thanks to the intensive summer heat & high temperature, any small body of stagnant water evaporates quickly.

Next, we have the rainy season. Since rains inundate almost every part of the topography, stagnant water during rainy season would be rare. Due to incessant rains for weeks, the water would always be in circulation or free flow, and never get a chance to stagnate.

Now, consider the transition from rainy to winter season which occurs at around October-November. This is the time when the water accumulated in trenches & shallow topography zones, start getting stagnated. Unlike the high temperature of summer heat, the low temperature of cold winter do not evaporate these stagnant water bodies easily. Hence, they end up becoming breeding ground for insects, especially mosquitoes, which then leads to spread of contaminable diseases.

This seasonal cycle is not something which started just a few decades ago but have been going on forever since time immemorial. i.e Seasons like Summer, Rainy, Winter, etc have been going on for centuries, since time immemorial. Since Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world (acknowledged by even the most eminent historians), it was but natural for the Hindus of ancient times to tackle this insect/mosquito menace emanating from stagnant water.

The Hindus, who were already experts in the Sciences of Yoga & Ayurveda, thousands of years ago itself, had all the relevant knowledge back then, to come up with a solution, which could actually be carried out as a fun-filled tradition so that it could be sustained & passed on across generations. From the previous discussions, we had come across evidences which prove that ancient India knew of saltpetre. 


Source:
https://books.google.co.in/books?id=dSVnAwAAQBAJ

With the knowledge of saltpetre, one of the simplest ways of using it to destroy such insects, was to use them in tiny explosives or sparklers, which could release Potassium-Nitrate, which in turn could destroy germs & hence curb dangerous insects.  In fact, even today, saltpetre is used as basic ingredient in home-remedy-kits to prepare mosquito-repellents.

Thus it can be deduced that, the Hindus, thousands of years ago, came up with such simple yet effective solution of destroying harmful disease-borne-insects & germs, by simply exploding firecrackers (or lighting up as sparklers), in which saltpetre was the basic ingredient, thereby keeping water-borne & contaminable diseases at bay.


This reasoning has been established by scientific community as well, including health research scientists & doctors. For example, in 2003, when Delhi was reeling under Dengue, the city corporation’s senior health officials & doctors had requested the Delhi Govt to allow people to follow their traditional custom of firecrackers, so that it could curb the mosquito menace, and in turn automatically tackle Dengue problem in Delhi.

The following news report from 2003 sheds more light into the health officers’ reasoning:


News Link:

http://www.thehindu.com/2003/10/16/stories/2003101610250400.htm

Few years later, in 2006, when Dengue menace was again on the rise in Delhi, scentists & health officers had actually advised people to fire up crackers & light sparklers to put an end to the mosquito menace, as reported in the following news article. This backing from the scientific community gives further fillip to the scientific basis of tradition.


News link:
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Cracker-cure/articleshow/2181064.cms

Recently, few scientists had even patented the technique of using fireworks to curb mosquitoes.
Following is a snapshot of the patent abstract.


Link:
https://www.google.com/patents/CN2030596U?cl=en

With the above explanations pertaining to seasons, and the reasoning of scientific communities (including advice by health officers & patents by scientists), we can conclude that the tradition of fireworks during Deepavali, indeed has a very convincing scientific reasoning behind it. It is to basically tackle the insect (especially mosquito) menace due to stagnant water which becomes breeding grounds for such harmful insects during the transition from rainy season to winter season.

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