Rashmi Gopal Rao
Come November, and it is time to herald one of India’s most celebrated festivals, Diwali. A festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness and good over evil, lighting lamps and diyas is intrinsic to the spirit of the festival. Given the times we live in, the importance of celebrating the festival in a manner that is environment-friendly and sustainable can hardly be overemphasised. The news of the production of 33 crore eco-friendly earthen lamps (diyas) made from cowdung for this Diwali made headlines recently when it was announced by Vallabhbhai Kathiria, chairman of the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog as part of the Kamdhenu Deepawali campaign. Well, here is a look at how you can go green with all your Diwali lights too.
Eco-friendly lighting is all about choosing the right bulbs, the right kind of fixture materials and, of course, exercising restraint and rigour in switching them off when not needed. While LED lights are the norm today, light fixtures made from recycled metal, glass, and even paper are sustainable choices. “From lokta, banana fibre paper to upcycled cork and quarry waste, one can create several unique lighting options,” says Radeesh Shetty, whose Oorjaa collection includes the use of natural elements like banana fibre, water hyacinth and faux concrete in aesthetic pendant, table and floor lamps. So, if you are looking to add some distinctive pieces to your living room, this is sure to light up your home in more ways than one.
From paper lamps to sky lanterns to earthen diyas, there are plenty of options to add an eco-friendly touch to your Diwali decorations. “Diyas made from cork with zero binders, along with soy candles, are a great eco-friendly option. Soy wax also burns slower and is cleaner than paraffin wax. So you will get a candle that lasts longer, and with less soot,” says Roshan Ray of Seed Paper India.
Diwali is all about cheer and colour, and given the fact that this year has been exceptionally dark due to the pandemic, spread happiness with some brightly hued akash kandils or lanterns made from handmade or recycled paper. Easily available online, these come with colourful tassels and other attractive embellishments, which add in those celebratory vibes in both indoor as well as outdoor spaces. Then there are the ones made from handloom fabrics, which add a traditional touch to your décor.
Hanging lanterns made from bamboo are an apt choice if you want to go green; most of them are foldable too, so you can keep these away after the festival and reuse these as many times you want. Another option is the multi-colour round lanterns made from rice paper, which are perfect if you want a more contemporary look. Pair these up with dainty fairy lights, and you have an Instagrammable vignette ready!
The joy of crafting something yourself compares to none other and whether it is Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube, you can find plenty of inspiration online. From making candle holders with concrete and cement to creating your own natural candle with a perfectly cut orange, there is plenty you can do yourself. “Organic ghee made from cow’s milk is a good substitute to light diyas with. You can light them in old t-light holders with home-made ghee cotton wicks” says Vandana Sarawgi, designer at SR Artefacts. Apart from umpteen paper lantern tutorials, you can also find how to make the quintessentially charming yarn lights with either wool, jute or cotton yarn using a balloon.