Our Beacon Forum

Diwali and the Mughals
By:Aleem Faizi, UP, India
Date: Wednesday, 18 October 2017, 12:44 pm

Aurangzeb era Diwali celebrated with gusto, historians rebut ‘Mughals banned crackers’ claim.

Wednesday October 18, 2017 12:14 PM, ummid.com News Network

Aurangzeb banned Diwali??

Mumbai: Far from banning Diwali crackers, Mughal rulers, including Emperor Aurangzeb, patronised Diwali and other Hindu festivals, historians claimed adding that there is enough proof to suggest that Diwali with fireworks originated during the Mughals.

“The Mughals patronised Diwali. It became a court festival from Akbar's time. It became a festival for everyone, not just Hindus,“ historian Professor Harbans Mukhia is quoted by The Times of India as saying.

The TOI article published following the Supreme Court order to ban sales of crackers in Delhi NCR and the consequent propaganda against the Mughal and other Muslim rulers claimed, the Nawab Vazir of Avadh and Nawab Nizam of Bengal patronised Diwali and Durga Puja and organised spectacular fireworks displays in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Fireworks became inherent to Diwali from the late 18th century. There are Lucknow Nawabi paintings of fireworks at Diwali and European paintings of fireworks at Durga Puja in Murshidabad and Calcutta,“ Dr Katherine Butler Schofield who teaches at King's College, London said.

"The Mughals and their Rajput contemporaries used fireworks extensively, “especially in the dark months of the year -late autumn and winter“.

“The chronicles of the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb describe fireworks being used for weddings, birthday weighings (tuladan), coronations (including Aurangzeb's), and religious festivals like Shab-e-Baraat", Schofield said.

The Mughal attitude to Diwali could also be gauged from what Fazl writes in the first volume of Ain-i-Akbari. “His Majesty (Akbar) maintains it is a religious duty and divine praise to worship fire and light; sur ly, ignorant men consider this forgetfulness of the Almighty and fire worship", he noted.

Rebutting the claim that Emperor Aurangzeb banned Diwali fireworks, Schofield said, “His supposed `farman' floating on social media is at best a modern copy or an outright fake (it's on modern paper and uses contemporary Urdu orthography)."

“There is no religious reason why Aurangzeb would have banned fireworks. Holi was celebrated in Aurangzeb's war camp in the Deccan in 1693, according to the Italian traveller Gemelli Careri, so why not Diwali?

"There is, in fact, a painting of Aurangzeb's daughter Zebunnissa celebrating Shab-e-Baraat with fireworks in Delhi in the late 17th century", she said.