Its Diwali, virtually

Hindustan Times – HT City,

Got an international credit card? Then all you need to do is log on to websites like shopping.indiamart.com and ‘send’ sweets or dry fruits from Haldiram

As cracker sales plummet, Delhities prepare for a low-key but hi-tech celebration

It’s not just nerds celebrating an ‘on-line’ Diwali this year: It’s also the aged grandparents of Indo-US netizens who are being dot-com’d into the new millennium, receiving gifts online from children overseas.

Diwali cards will also be outmoded next year as new software makes it possible to talk and exchange greetings with loved ones across the globe. Suddenly, Diwali is no longer what it used to be: Mithais are unhealthy, crackers are politically incorrect and diyas a fire hazard in crowded by-lanes and gullies. In such a scenario, why not sit back and celebrate Diwali – virtually?
In case you haven’t noticed, Diwali has gone digital. Get on the World Wide Web to send mithais to your family and friends in or around Delhi. Got an international credit card? Then all you need to do is log on to websites like shopping indiamart com and ‘send’ sweets or dry fruits from Haldiram, the Asian food giant, simply by clicking at the right places . So forget that ritual Diwali trip to Tau’s place, and dotcom him some kaju-barfi instead.

But for many, Diwali will be a low-key affair this year. Even the gifts are fewer, complains novelist Khushwant Singh: “Last Diwali, I had received 10-odd bottles of Scotch. This year it’s only three.” Even shops and stores are reporting lower sales this year, particularly when it comes to crackers. Says Maheshwar Dayal Srivastava, owner of Majestic Fire Works, “Cracker sales are down to 20% this year, thanks to the anti-pollution and anti-child labour campaigns. It’s a trend that’s been evident for the last 10 years.”

Quiz wiz Siddharth Basu has been a part of that trend for years and “now that schools have been issued letters by the Delhi CM to say ‘no’ to crackers this Diwali, I think, as parents, we shouldn’t encourage them.”

One parent who won’t is model Simar Duggal: “I have a little child who suffers congestion year after year due to pollution. I think people are realising it and that is why there was less noise last year…

…Which brings us back to our virtual celebrations – why not be cyber savvy and dotcom Diwali?