The festive vibe of Diwali has evolved into a new emotion; one thats shaping up into a collective consciousness driven with purpose. A fascinating summation of several rituals and traditions, Diwali, also known as Deepawali is a festival that has witnessed in the recent past a major shift in attitude. Popular traditions and practices that are at the core of the identity of this festival are being reinvented and adapted to incorporate concepts of sustainability. The credit goes to the efforts of several organisations and initiatives that are supporting sustainability through innovation.Plant seed crackers is a brilliant idea and an initiative by the Gram Art Project that has been getting a lot of media attention of late. Under this initiative, in the tiny village of Paradsinga, Madhya Pradesh, women belonging to more than 100 households from seven villages are creating opportunities for us to celebrate festivals with a purpose. The organisation has made exact replicas of firecrackers with seeds that can be planted and nurtured to become fruits and vegetable plants.Seed Crackers are lookalikes with a purposeSeed cracker is a name thats a definite crowd-puller. The name and the packaging of these products attract your attention immediately. But the purpose and the objective driving this initiative takes it to a different level. The only similarity between firecrackers and seed crackers is in their appearance. These are firecracker lookalikes but contain seeds instead of gunpowder. Seed crackers are firecracker alternatives made from recyclable material, in a non-exploitative environment and embedded with living seeds. Instead of affecting birds and animals by causing sound, light and air pollution, these are nature-friendly and habitat-rejuvenating. Just sow, water and see these crackers hatch into beautiful plants, explains Shweta Bhattad, co-founder of the Gram Art Project.The concept of popular firecrackers has been adapted to serve the greater purpose of environment and sustainability. Unlike the regular firecracker ladis, their micro-green ladis can be sowed in different pots. For those who love chakras, theres the alternative onion chakra that grows into an onion plant, minus the air pollution caused by its firecracker counterpart. Interestingly, the growth of these seed crackers has been designed to resemble the journey of a firecracker. Similar to the traditional anar that bursts out into colours rising high, the ones made by the women at Paradsinga will turn into beautiful Golden Shower trees during summer. Why burn the Goddess of Wealth and create sound and air pollution when you can use it to grow sonapatti which has medicinal values? questions Bhattad as she describes the eco-friendly alternative to the popular Laxmi bomb.The rocket firecracker is a beauty when it goes up high up in the night sky and bursts to form numerous stars. How about replacing the conventional rocket with a cucumber rocket embedded with seeds of the climber? Asks Bhattad. Just tilt the rocket upside down, bury the cracker part of it in soil, tie one end of a string to the end of the stick of this rocket and another end of the string to a place somewhere high and water regularly,Choosing the cause over city lifeFor the founders, Shweta Bhattad, Vedant Bhattad and Roshni Narnaware, this initiative is not a project, it is a way of life. Today, many of them have left their city lives and relocated to the village to actively pursue their passion. We are a group of farmers and artists with different ideas and identities. But the idea and identity that connects us all and make us a collective, is that we all are living and working in and around a village and are concerned about it, explains BhattadThe need for celebrations like BeejParvaThe concept was born when the founders realised the urgent need for an alternative to help raise awareness regarding the hazards caused by firecrackers, and replace them with sustainable alternatives. In our studio at Paradsing'a there is a neem tree which is home to hundreds of sparrows, we have canine and bovine co-residents as well. We couldnt stay mum and silently watch them go through the horror of crackers and loudspeakers every year during the festival. And Beejparva was conceptualised, says Bhattad. BeejParva is a series of eco-friendly, exploitation-free and meaningful alternatives to the current means of celebrations that are socially and ecologically exploitative without conscious thought into it, she further explains.A collective support initiative for womenThe organisation also seeks to empower women and help them earn a living. Women from around 100 households of seven villages have created these unique seed crackers. Some of these women are farmers, some are farm labourers, and some are artists while some are homemakers. But one common identity that they all hold is that they all are artisans in their own right, explains Vedant Bhattad. The objective pursued here goes beyond providing support. The focus is to create a collective support system. When someone has to go through any incidence of domestic violence or has some financial need, this space acts as a support system to talk about it and provide possible solutions, he further adds.A healthy work culture unlike the inhuman practicesA conscious objective also entails the provision of an exploitation-free system and work culture. To overcome challenges and situations wherein women arent allowed to step out, Shweta Bhattad and her team have implemented production processes to enable the majority of the work to be done from their homes. This doesnt mean that we want women to stay inside their homes only, but this acts as the first step towards freeing them from their household responsibilities, she explains.The challenge of maintaining the momentumThis initiative by Gram Art is an important step for adapting sustainability, but the real challenge lies in the momentum. How difficult or easy it is for organisations like these to keep the conversation going. Artisans and rural communities-based production systems will need support from the government as well as society as a whole to co-create a producer-consumer ecosystem that is non-monopolistic, plural, based on co-operation and co-existence among other principles that have to be collectively defined, believes Vedant Bhattad.We plan to make our process more inclusive to keep the discussion around sustainability going and growing. To make producers, suppliers as well as consumers part of the production to consumption cycle. If we can create an ecosystem where no individual exists in singular identity, be that of a producer or a consumer, and each consumer becomes a co-producer and each producer a co-consumer, then we can move much further in our journey towards not just eco-friendly celebration, but overall sustainable and conscious living, he concludes.