Cracker of a Time

The festival of lights is coming, and there is no better time to turn our attention to Deepavali Crackers (called Fireworks elsewhere in the world). Ever since my youngest brother was advised by a left-wing, liberal, animal-loving, vegan, peace-loving, earth-loving (and other standard stereotypes) kindergarten teacher not to buy crackers during Deepavali because young children who ought to be going to school are forced to work under dangerous conditions in Sivakasi to make them, the interest in fireworks has generally waned over the years.

But now that all boxes from Sivakasi carry the “Made without Child Labour” label, everything is hunky-dory and the fireworks are slowly making their way back into the household.

Sivakasi is becoming increasingly marketing-savvy and this year, this packet arrived (for Rs. 350)

packet.jpg

Wow. Home delivery. While I did, for just a moment, assume that this packet came from Saravana Stores Antique Jeweller, the multi-coloured flower-pot on the right settled the matter. So it was time to open the box and check out the goodies. But before I did so, I noticed this on the side. The good corporate citizens of Sivakasi had included an informative visual on the right ways to use Deepavali crackers.

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But I was very disappointed that they chose to ignore the following life-saving instructions.

instruction0.jpginstruction2.jpg

and they totally missed out the all-important

instruction3.jpg

Anyway, I urge all of you to pass these instructions on to kids in your neighbourhood.

So, let’s get to the good stuff inside. While crackers were always fun, I have also enjoyed, over the years, the artwork on the boxes. From the hand-painted masterpieces of the 80s that gave way to the gaudy Photoshopped images of the 90s, Sivakasi has always been some sort of a zeitgeist of the times. For instance, let me show you some of the innovative box art-work this year.

1. 100 Wala

100wala.jpg

The AK-47 of Deepavali fireworks is the 100-wala, with its machine-gun like burst of sound. This Sara-vedi comes in several sizes. In Chennai, the formula is

N-Wala, where N has the following values

100 – Middle Class

500 – Upper Middle Class, with son/daughter as NRI

1000 – Small businessman who has had a good year

5000 – Local Saettu

10,000 – Local MLA

Wonder what the Nicole Kidman/Jack Black motif means though. Perhaps an oblique comparison to the “loudness” of rock music tempered with Nicole suggesting that all of us should obey the local government’s 6 am to 10 pm rule for bursting crackers? No idea.

2. Bijli (Loose)

cartoon.jpg

Perhaps an oblique reference to that fact that Walt Disney uses child labour/sweat shops (in SE Asia) too?

3. Twinkling Stars

bipasha.jpgcracker0.jpg

Perhaps a reference to the fact that Twikling stars (and sparklers and flower pots) are considered to be girlie crackers, and thus the Bipasha and cowboy-baby references. Back in the 80s, we used this rule – If it does not make a loud explosive sound or spray fire in dangerously random directions, it’s for girls.

4. Bollywood mein Chakkar

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Preity and Bobby are having a chakkar. A special chakkar. Get it? Get it? He he.

5. For Boys only.

hydro.jpg

These things are nastily loud. And they can be used to break wooden post-boxes (I have done this successfully as a 10 year old). And I love the company name. It starts off so softly and sweetly – Bala Saroja and then suddenly takes on violent, Rammsteinesque tones – Pyrotechs.

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The guy on the cover scared the camera so badly that it shook while taking the snap. Seriously.

6. Completely lame fireworks.

I never understood the point of these things. Till I was told that their smoke used to keep mosquitoes away. In the past, i.e. Modern mosquitoes have evolved to wear gas-masks.

serpents.jpg

Apart from all of these, there were the other usual suspects – Flower pots, Lakshmi vedis, Kuruvi vedis and Rockets.

Anyway, have a safe Deepavali. I mean, if you wish to launch rockets horizontally on the road, do check to see if there are any petroleum tankers coming down the road. If you wish to hold flower-pots in your hand and wave them around as they burn, use kevlar gloves. If you wish to break neighbours post-boxes, use 2 atom bombs tied together, but do not stand in the direction of the door. Wood shrapnel is likely to fly in your direction at dangerous velocities.

39 Comments

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  1. Well, Krish Raghav is right. I do not support buying fireworks and I don’t like burning them up. An organised fireworks display by professionals is much better than plunging the city into a war like atmosphere for days. The roads are converted into bomb testing sites and uninformed kids blow up ‘bombs’ in dense residential colonies.

    The dude on the Hydro Bomb box is WWE wrestler Batista. And is that a Warcraft orc on the next box?!

  2. Bipasha is looking centrally cyanosed, in spite of the painted lips.
    Is it because she is smoking too much? Because her heart is in the wrong place? Or she has gron olda and is a kiss near death? Maybe the smoke from Chennai bloggers’ homes is choking off the oxygen supply in Mum boy city, and she is feelin’ blue?

  3. Thanks a lot for your all-important and live-saving tips. Made me lol.

    During my past Diwalis, I successfully managed to burn curtains of a neighbour, break flower pots (not crackers but those pots with real flowers), blast bijili near my cousin’s ear, scare dogs away, throw hand-bombs (which blast when thrown hard on ground) near my friends’ legs and so on.

    These should be added to the dont-try instruction-list for kids

  4. Bipasha on the label is a stroke of genius.

    It’s a quintessential Indian communication … like the Geetopadesham graphic. Krishna outside the canopy in-charge, reining in the horses and poor Arjuna trapped inside.

    By putting Bipasha on the label, the consumer is told that he’s got himself a ‘pataka’, a subtle ‘Handle with care’ notice.

    Having her in blue is just elevating the pitch some more. For example, think about all those hot calendars in tailors’ shops in Madras. What do you think the tailor is trying to tell his clientele?

  5. Wah wah!! Sniff! Waiiil! Koi lauta de mere childhood ke din when all the environmental guilt tripping wasnt around. Now I cant do anything thanks to guilty conscience ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Please not to miss the highly pointless “submarine” which would make a bucket seethe and bubble and then die leaving a bad smell.

    Funnest was what was called “Erippadakkam” in malayalam, where you threw the things on a wall and the wall exploded (almost). They were banned of course.

    Also the magic candle- a snake like sparkler that would emit a paavam plume of light for 10 minutes and then die, unwept unhonoured and unsung. Highly popular among the “mummmyyyy” type of little girls.

    I have also never had luck with a Swastik chakra. Invariably, the second arm will fail to ignite and cause total failure, or the damn thing would back itself into a wall and hiss and spit fire steadily for 3 minutes. Pah total frustration.

    PS: What does “LAR” in the sara vedi terminology mean? 10-LAR, 100-LAR mala etc? We used to faithfully tally the LAR count of various families as a measure of coolness.

  6. Hi. This is yet another unethical backlink builder who is trying to build traffic to our lame website on Indian festivals. And we even use bold text because regular text just doesn’t grab eyeballs and squeeze.This page is really startle to see the liveliness regarding Diwali. Diwali is the festival of light. Whole India this day celebrate Diwali with a great zestfulness.
    But if you want to know about the origin of Diwali or the original rituals regarding Diwali, you must visit this site:

    http://www.google.com

  7. Hand bombs = “vengaya vedi” ? the stuff that had gravel, small stones and some black powdery stuff that burst when thrown hard

  8. Hi. We are yet another blog directory that’s trying to build backlinks and traffic by randomly spamming every other blog.In that regard, your blog has been referred by your friend(s), hence your blog is listed in BLOGKUT. Thanks for your support. Help us spam some more by referring some of your friend’s blogs and get listed in BLOGKUT. In case you didn’t notice, we are shamlessly exploiting Orkut’s name recognition in India, and calling ourselves BLOGKUT, which sounds like somebody throwing up.

  9. Bipasha looks ooh-saucy.
    And I stopped the whole cracker thing back in the mid-90’s when I discovered some “Child Labor in Sivakasi” type documentary on the UGC channel of DD, whatzit called, Gyan Darshan?
    Then, bloodboiling happened. And in a fit of 9 year old rebellion, said a “Nahiiiin” to crackers. That said, I miss those green evil looking “Hydrogen Bombs”, the only one that could make the neighborhood mad mongrel scared.
    Happy Deepavali to you too.

  10. just wondering where are the hrithik roshans and john abrahams of the country, or does sivakasi do a statistical study which boasted of only significant ADAMS!

  11. May I know why and what is unethical?
    Ashok: pasting links in comments on others’ blogs to build traffic to one’s own site is
    Its no where mentioned that it is prohibited to post the name of any other web site!
    Ashok: Ofcourse it isn’t. It’s simply a protocol/etiquette that has evolved to ensure that the blogosphere remains largely free of unscrupulous marketing messages
    I think this website is really good:
    : )
    Ashok: Much appreciated. Which is why I edit your comments, remove links and let is stay posted.
    http://www.google.com
    For Diwali rituals:
    http://www.google.com
    For free wallpaper:
    http://www.google.com
    enjoy….

  12. Because I completely fail to spot the obvious use of sarcasm by the blog owner in the previous comment, I will blissfully continue to spam this blog. Since deepavali wallpapers are the next biggest thing since sliced bread, find the most cool exquisite website of wallpapers on Diwali:

    http://www.google.com

  13. Since you people are so lame that you still continue to send real paper cards or meet people in real life, allow me to help you out by hawking some cool e-cards to your near one and dear one. Your then here is searches end. I am providing one good website address to all of you:
    http://www.google.com

  14. You won’t believe, it’s been ages since I even heard the words ‘100 wala’ and ‘bijli vedi’!! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Man, those were uncomplicated times – teaches you that ignorance is indeed bliss!

    Happy Diwali to you and the missus! ๐Ÿ™‚

    P.S: Yep, you guessed it right – I’ve risen from the dead.

    P.P.S: Is it just me or does Bipasha look like she was bitten by Count Dracula?

  15. The joke about the snake pattasu was great. Finally I found another person who sees absolutely no point in this whatever (it doesnt deserve being called a vedi or pattasau). Even the color matches though pretty dumb, are better.

  16. Blazing Bips Bombs and Mickey.M oosi vedis-Wow.The high point in my girlhood was a box of kambi mathapoo in a box, whose cover was graced by Sridevi, clad in a rocket launcher blouse, smiling in a reefed-out fashion.
    Best wishes for you and the wife to have a sparkling Diwali.

  17. Wishing each one of you a very happy and prosperous deepawali. May this year brings you lots and lots of happiness in life and fulfill all your dreams.

  18. Happy Diwali! How i wish i could burst some firecrackers ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am just a lurker, been reading your blog for the last 2 weeks or so! I find your posts so interesting, didnt have a chance to go through each one of them but have covered the recent ones ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. @ Krish Ashok

    Yes. you are right. But when I accessed your blog, it was the main post.

    Don’t know what happened?

  20. and how many times you visit my favorite website (you have to tell me the truth!!!)
    Ashok: Honestly just once. The first time you spammed me. Just out of curiosity. But I didn’t like your tagline “Your window to Internet”

  21. Well thanks for your comment. One thing, just curiosity… little bit personal.. what is your occupation… are very much arrogant in nature?
    Any ways another url which may make you feel little bit angry (may be not). ha ha ha …: )
    Ashok: ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes. Occupation is doing jalsa and showing jilpa. But I am not sure what is arrogant. Patiently responding to you, and not marking your netglimse advertisements as spam OR repeatedly continuing to linkbait ๐Ÿ™‚

    http://www.google.com

    please give response of this one (ok ? ok? ah)

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