Guy Fawkes Celebrates Diwali – Animals Shiver In Fear
For the first time in something like 40 years, the annual observance of the Hindu festival of Diwali coincides with Guy Fawkes Day (Remember, remember the fifth of November). With both occasions being traditionally marked by fireworks, the potential for large numbers of traumatised pets is doubled tonight.
Colourful varieties of fireworks are always associated with this festival. Diwali, or Deepavali, means ‘a row of lights’, and is a significant religious ritual for Hindus. Discharging fireworks is a tradition symbolising the victory of light over darkness and good over evil and follows a month-long fast and abstinence from meat and alcohol.
On this auspicious day, people light up diyas and candles all around their house. They perform Laxmi Puja in the evening and seek divine blessings of Goddess of Wealth.
Diwali is never complete without exchange of gifts and sweets, which are given to friends and loved ones.
Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is an annual celebration held on the evening of November 5, marking the failed Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. Originally made a public holiday by the Thanksgiving Act of 1605, the occasion is celebrated primarily in Great Britain, although some former British colonies also mark the occasion.
The Gunpowder Plot was a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics, including Guy Fawkes, to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state. The plotters were to allegedly try to blow up the British Houses of Parliament in London.
Festivities centre on the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.
Guy Fawkes in South Africa:
While bonfires are the Gay Fawkes tradition in the United Kingdom – where the celebration began – in South Africa’s townships children dress up in their parents’ clothes and visit neighbours, knocking on doors in their areas. The dressing up is taken seriously – children can be seen dressed in parents’ and grandparents’ finery, with granny’s bras fully padded, bums cushioned to add motion and drama to the performance and faces smudged with bright make-up.
Common-sense rules should be applied before allowing children to go off down the street. Advise children they should never get into a car with someone they do not know; should stay in a group with friends – don’t lag behind; not go into a house of a person they do not know; always tell an adult where they are going and when they will return; and not allow any physical contact.
Guy Fawkes Day is to township children what Halloween is to children in the suburbs. They wander around in groups, putting on performances at intersections and busy public places for a coin or two. In some townships, later in the evening, fireworks are set off.
Pet Care Advice from the NSPCA:
Pet-owners to take adequate precautionary measures which include the following:
- Ensure that animals have identification; preferably a micro-chip or dog tag, in case they escape and are lost
- If possible, stay at home with animals
- If not at home, keep pets inside in a safe and secure room
- Mask any noise by drawing curtains and playing calming music
- Put familiar and comforting things around them
- Feed them beforehand, which is likely to make them sleepy
- Give them something to chew on – a chewy bone or catnip toys for cats
- Animals should be kept indoors, with the curtains closed and the television or radio switched on to distract the pets
- A quiet place, such as a carrier, may give a sense of security and comfort
- If necessary, consult a veterinarian who may prescribe a sedative. There are also effective homeopathic calming remedies available
Fireworks Safety is Paramount:
Safety is paramount – fireworks are dangerous, and people are encouraged to keep a few safety tips in mind:
- Pick a site that is appropriate for lighting crackers;
- Clothes must be fire resistant;
- Set up the display in the daylight;
- Check the wind direction before starting the display;
- Pick up all the remains of the fireworks and keep them out of children’s reach; and
- Fireworks should be handled by adults, and children should watch the display from a distance.
Adhere to the City By-Laws:
And remember, in terms of the (Joburg) City’s by-laws (I assume there are similar by-laws in other places):
- No person should use fireworks within 500 metres of any explosives factory, explosives storage place, petrol depot or petrol station, inside any building, at any public place or at any school, old age home or hospital;
- Lighting or igniting fireworks in any place where animals are present will incur a fine of R1 000;
- Minors may not be allowed to light or ignite fireworks – no-one under the age of 16 is allowed to handle or use fireworks, except if they are supervised by an adult;
- Retailers may not sell fireworks to a child under the age of 16;
- Fireworks may only be set off on specific days, and during stipulated times. The allowed days include Diwali, Chinese New Year, Human Rights Day, Guy Fawkes Day, Christmas Eve and the Day of Goodwill. On these days, fireworks can be set off between 7pm and 10pm. Setting them off outside these times carries a R500 fine;
- It is illegal to let off fireworks after midnight on any day except New Year’s Eve. On this day, fireworks are only allowed between 11pm and 1am.