Diwali: SPCA calls for 'quiet' celebrations

2009-10-12 00:00

PET lovers and their dogs staged a demonstration in Howick during the weekend, to voice their hope that Diwali will be celebrated this week without turning local neighbourhoods into “war zones” with loud fireworks.

The National Council of SPCA’s (NSPCA) said in a statement issued at the weekend it recognises and respects the cultural and religious practices that involve the use of light — and which are not limited to Hindus.

These are protected in terms of the Constitution.

However, the NSPCA said the rights of others too should not be compromised and laws should not be broken.

“Diwali is the festival of light. Big bangs have no part in Diwali because they were not part of the tradition.

“Yet around the time of Diwali, we receive countless calls from people within the Hindu community who appeal to us for assistance, saying they are trying to celebrate in the accepted traditional manner but are unable to do so because youths are running up and down the road throwing lighted crackers over garden walls.

“Diwali has been taken in vain by certain persons, using it as an excuse for mayhem,” said the organisation.

The NSPCA is in favour of legislation that will ensure that the discharge of fireworks for religious purposes be limited to a certain part of town; that residents and animal welfare organisations be notified in advance of the use of fireworks as well as who will be present to police it.

Superintendent Renier Botha, commanding officer of the SAPS bomb disposal unit in Pietermaritzburg, warned yesterday that no child under the age of 16 years is allowed to set off fireworks unless supervised by adults.

“Fireworks are totally banned from use in public places except with prior permission.

“There are heavy penalties for transgressions,” he added.


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