The New Year celebration has its specialty to different peoples and communities depending on their climes and cultures. This is more so because the year is also different: some have their lunar and some other have their solar calendars. Thus the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, replacing the Julian calendar ---both based on geocentric theory, to adjust minor differences for yearly counts has become acceptable to most of the world. Naturally, in a global village the celebration of this widely used New Year has a few typical features and characters common.
One of these is firework. Because the New Year is counted from midnight with the clock moving past 12, the celebration also begins with the night sky displaying spectacular fireworks. In the Western world there are some famous celebration spots like New York's the Times Square, London's South Bank. In Australia, the Sydney Harbour is known for the most spectacular fireworks and their Tasman Sea neighbour also make Auckland sky as spectacular as they can. Capitals and other cities in the Western world and on other continents including Asia also put up their shows of eye-catching fireworks.
Originally invented in China, it is still that country's monopoly. It is the largest producer and exporter of fireworks in the world. The low explosive pyrotechnic devices are best suited to put up a beautiful, aesthetic and colourful aerial show. No wonder, competitions of sports and games including the Olympic are incomplete without fireworks.
With its economy becoming stronger, Bangladesh is unlikely to stay behind on this count. When a national or international sports tournament is held here, such fireworks follow the international standard maintaining disciplines such as time, number of fireworks to go up and duration of the show. But on other occasions ---some of them are not to mean for firecrackers---like the celebration of the Victory Day and Independence Day, there is no hold bar. Recently there is a growing tendency of exploding firecrackers in this capital on any day youngsters or whoever might choose.
Firecrackers are indeed a nuisance because the sound pollution it causes is a direct risk to patients and people with congenitally weaker hearts. Celebration of an occasion with firecrackers particularly a religious one like Sha-e-Barat when people are in prayer is perhaps the most outrageous. If firecrackers mostly produce booming sounds of varying decibels, not display of fire, firecrackers produce sound, light and smoke.
This year when the Western world mostly cancelled such fireworks on the New Year's eve and gatherings, Bangladesh capital went for a frenzied display and celebration. The difference between unregulated fireworks and regulated fireworks was lost to the revellers. Additionally, the ballooning of what is called fanus or air lantern in their thousands lit the city sky in an eerie spectacle.
Although open celebration was restricted, there was no dearth of rooftop revelry. No one paid heed to the authority's request for not exploding firecrackers and for limiting fireworks. It is the country's archaic distribution of wealth that is to blame for this kind of mindless waste of money. It was gathered that a firework of modest capacity costs Tk2,200. In a country where millions have been left literally paupers by the effect of the pandemic, such displays are an affront to conscience. Still there were several rooftops from where dozens or scores of firecrackers were sent to the sky. With deafening sounds they went up to send coloured flames and sparks all around. All this went on for no less than an hour.
Now, there is no estimate of the total expenditure the capital city made on firecrackers and fireworks. But it is likely to be a staggering amount. What is intriguing is that days after the New Year celebration, firecrackers still assault people's ears at night. Well, people need entertainment but not in violation of rules and discipline. Reportedly a child with a congenital weak heart having a fissure in it died on the New Year's day. Doctors suspect the impact of the booming sound proved too much for the child. The celebration could not care less for old people, babies, patients and people with weaker hearts.
Similarly, the air lanterns' destination was unknown to anyone. They could land anywhere and pose risk of fire. Actually, the lanterns caused fires at 10 spots warranting fire brigade's emergency service to douse those in at least two incidents.
The thing that must not escape notice is the less spectacular display on Dhaka sky compared to the capitals in the West or East Asia. The fireworks here are not aesthetically as developed as those used in a disciplined manner by the authorities. The New Year celebration has come to stay. So it would be wise to have a regulated display on a designated square by the city authorities instead of allowing it to be a free for all. Some countries have also introduced silent fireworks which make spectacular display but no sound. This can be an option for Dhaka and other cities or towns here.