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Sound of today’s drums not only louder, they are a health hazard too: Experts
TNN | Sep 18, 2015, 11.07 PM IST
MUMBAI: Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations have long been portrayed as an activist-versus-religion slugfest, where politicians and wealthy Ganesh mandals fight for their right to violate noise pollution regulations. In reality, though, there's virtually nothing traditional about the noise pollution during Ganesh chaturthi—both loudspeakers and plastic-membrane dhols are a modern invention that were not around during Tilak's time. Worse still, a doctor finds that the impact of the noise and vibrations are devastating for the men who actually beat the dhols.
"From past experiences of the Ganesh festival, I remember that they were never so disturbing. Earlier, the drums beaten during the festival had leather membranes and were not remotely as loud as the drums used today, which have plastic membranes. Plastic membrane drums are so loud, you can feel them reverberate. The frequency of the sound speeds up your heart beat. You can feel your heart thump with each beat," says Sumaira Abdulali, noise pollution activist and founder of Awaaz Foundation.
"When measuring noise pollution during Ganesh chaturthi, I have felt physically sick and dizzy and found I couldn't stand there for more than a few minutes. While these symptoms of noise pollution are part of numerous WHO reports, I've experienced them first hand," said Abdulali.
Audiologist Kalyani Mandke points to the fact that dhols, often considered less noisy than loudspeakers, actually cause immense damage to the body because of the low frequencies they emit, which cause various organs in the body to vibrate continuously. A paper written by her shows that the damage is particularly acute to those playing the drums, who may, in time, suffer from 'white arm syndrome', due to the routine exposure to hand-arm vibrations. In its advanced stages, it is characterised by "a blanching of the extremities of the fingers, which is caused by damage to the arteries and nerves in the soft tissue of the hand".
"When body organs vibrate with an unnatural frequency, it is injurious to the health, affecting several parts of the body, including renal, visceral and chest functions," Mandke says. Pointing to the months of training that drummers put in before the festival season, she says, "Drummers should take breaks during practice. And breaks should not consist of standing close to other people beating drums, as they will continue to feel the effect," she says, adding that dhol-players should practise in smaller groups. The more people striking drums at the same time, the worse it is for one's health.
Recent Messages (2)
•Location•6 days ago
How dare Exerts, Activities & NGO's say so... #MNS & #ShivSena will feel bad. Mirchi lagegi unko... They will start beating the drums more louder outside these peoples houses/offices and all over the city. Their #Sentimentshurt.
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•6 days ago
These idiots had problems with meat ban but how they impose these celebrations on us is outrageous. Traffic snarls, deafening noise of drums, harmful air pollution of crackers, immersion of idols with plaster of paris destroying marine life and what not. Even i am a hindu but such disgusting way of celebration is condemnable. Even the loudspeaker from mosque should be removed. No one should be allowed to block traffic for watever reasons
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Copyright © 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service
Awaaz Foundation's anti- noise pollution campaign has been covered extensively in the Press and media since 2003.