The whole city was in a jubilant mood on Tuesday as residents turned up in their thousands across the city to celebrate Vijayadashami, the last day of Durga Puja festivities, and the culmination of Ramlila celebrations with the burning of the effigies of demon king Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarna and son Meghnad, to symbolise the victory of good over evil.
At most of the places where effigies were burnt, green crackers were used as conventional crackers were banned in Gurugram, organisers said.
Residents came in droves to enjoy the Ramlila fairs and watch ‘Ravan Dahan’, which resulted in snarls at several locations in the city. Various residential societies also organised cultural programmes, poem recitation by children and musical events for residents and visitors.
Raj Saini, media coordinator of Shri Durga Ram Leela committee of Jacobpura, said this year, they opted for a 45-foot-tall Ravana effigy and used only green crackers to burn it. “No special firecracker display was organised unlike previous years,” he said.
“This year, the crowd was thinner on the roads and markets mainly because Dussehra celebrations have become decentralised — every locality has celebrations of their own. Earlier, our Ramlila and Dussehra celebrations at the Gaushala ground used to be attended by thousands and was counted among the biggest Ramlilas in the city. But that stopped after new roads were carved out and ground became smaller,” Saini said.
Ramlila festivities were organised for the 10th year at DLF Club-5 ground too where at least 400-500 residents turned up to watch the effigies burn on Tuesday evening. Organisers said earlier in the day, women also celebrated Sindoor Khela to mark the culmination of Durga Puja festivities on the occasion of Vijayadashami.
Amit Jindal, president of Vipul Greens residents’ welfare association, said they too used only green crackers in the effigies on Tuesday. “This festival reminds us that nobody is good or bad;instead they are either weak or strong. Strong people stick to their morals, no matter what. We need to conquer the Ravana inside us,” he said.
Gurugram deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav, who was the chief guest at the Ravan Dahan event in Sector 14, said except green crackers, the manufacture, sale and use of all other types of crackers has been banned in Gurugram and Delhi in order to control pollution. “The ban will remain in effect till January 31, 2024. We will take necessary action if any complaint of violation is received,” he said.
Varun Kumar Dahiya, assistant commissioner of police, (crime), an inspector-rank official along with a team of at least 25-30 police personnel, was deployed at places where the public gathering was expected to be above 800.
“At least 25 duty magistrates were deployed across the city. Special monitoring teams were formed which were keeping round the clock vigil on public places along with CCTV camera monitoring where pandals and gatherings were taking place,” Dahiya said, adding that there were at least 23 places across the city where gatherings of more than 800 people took place on Tuesday evening.
He said crime branch teams, rider constables and quick response teams along with those available at police station level were deployed for security. “Special effort was taken to deter anti-social elements and pickpocketers,” he said.
Fire tenders and ambulances were also kept on standby at key spots where Ravan Dahan was taking place.
Nitish Bhardwaj, officer of Sector-29 fire station, said no fire call was received till 9pm. “We will remain on alert as cracker bursting will take place in remote areas late into the night,” he said, adding that they were instructed to deploy tenders at all major locations where people were expected to gather.
At present, it us up to the state governments in National Capital Region to enforce the cracker ban. The Delhi government has banned all firecrackers, including green firecrackers to be burst till January 1, 2024.
Pollution expert Avinash Chanchal from Greenpeace said they have observed that episodic events, such as the burning of firecrackers, contribute to spikes in air pollution levels every year. “Green crackers are not the right solution to tackle air pollution, as they still emit harmful pollutants. It is crucial to change the mindset regarding this issue. There are numerous creative alternatives available to us for celebrating our festivals,” he said.