This has been the quietest Diwali that I can recall. Maybe the one in 1929 was equally bad, but then, I don't know anyone who was alive then to recall "Diwali in the year of the Great Depression". (Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, is a festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs.)
In Gurgaon, the BPO (business process outsourcing) hub of India, very few people bought celebratory firecrackers. Those who have are probably saving it for Tuesday. There are no crackers being sold in the neighbouring marketplace. Shopkeepers tell me that they cost too much (news reports point out that the cost of making crackers has increased five-fold this year). And thanks to the slowdown, everyone's holding on to their pursestrings.
Even the malls are complaining. No one is on a shopping binge this Diwali! I walked into a mall yesterday that was offering a diamond pendant for purchases of over US$200 (or INR10,000--yes, the dollar has actually strengthened to INR50 now). I thought the "diamond-crazy Indian woman population" must be queuing up for the offer...but no such luck, for the retailers at least.
Interestingly, some virtual Diwali applications have been introduced this year. Webdunia has unveiled an application whereby online and mobile users can burst e-crackers and perform Pooja on their PCs and mobile phones. I wonder if the traffic on Webdunia (in English, it means the Web world) is heavy these days. And, how interesting is that? Environmentalists, for sure, are not complaining.