By Rushati Das
The rains in India usually end in August. However, in 2017 they continued and lasted till early October. The change in monsoons has dampened the festive mood and shaken the cultural aspects, costs of celebrations and adoption of unsustainable practices.
In India, festival season starts from October after the monsoon has retreated. It includes festivals such as: Dassera, Durga Puja, Diwali, Chhat Puja and more.
Durga Puja comes in the month of ‘Ashwin’ (Autumn) and is mythologically considered as the period, when Goddess Durga returns to her family home. Devotees celebrate her arrival for nine days. In earlier days, this is the period when temperatures used to range between 25-27°C. However, for the last few years, the monsoons have been delayed, thus encroaching upon festival days. In 2014 during Durga Puja it rained for five of the nine days, while in 2015-2016 there were no reports of rain and in 2017 the total rainfall reported was 30% more than the average rainfall. The massive downpour India has been experiencing since mid September 2015 (15-20mm/day rainfall) dampened all festive celebrations in East and North East India.
Abnormal rains extended beyond its normal season and resulted in heavy flooding in North Bengal, Bihar and North East India, which took many lives and affected livelihood of people and food security (as the main crop to be harvested was washed away by a flash flood).
Listed below are a few impacts of climate change that occurred during the recent Durga Puja festival:
The changes in the duration of rains also encroaching in ‘Ashwin’ (autumn), usually had clear blue sky indicates that climate change is close enough impacting our old generation based beliefs and practices of festivals. Observing these changes or alternatives practices being brought in raises lot of questions on consumption patterns being followed or lifestyle changes that would require more energy to be used from fossil fuels, ultimately taking our society towards higher carbon footprint. At this juncture of developing action oriented climate agenda, it is pertinent to sensitise masses on perceived as well as observed changes in weather phenomenon, so that long term low carbon alternatives can be introduced preserving the sanctity of religious faiths and belief.
Rushati Das is a Programme Officer at Climate Action Network South Asia.