As Diwali gets closer and we all get carried away by the festivities, renown dog-lover and Bollywood actress and producer Anushka Sharma spoke to BuzzFeed India about her campaign PAWsitive, and how we can make the season a tiny bit easier on our furry friends.
BuzzFeed: First things first. Tell us about how Dude came into your life.
Anushka Sharma: Having a dog or any pet requires time and space in a place like Mumbai. I got Dude when I shifted to my new house. My parents take care of him like their third child and since I travel a lot I don't think I would've been able to have Dude in my life had it not been for my parents.
BF: And what made you take up the cause of a pet-friendly Diwali?
AS: Animals make the world a better place. Being sensitive towards their welfare becomes our responsibility because they don't have a voice of their own. So, I was just thinking of how I celebrated Diwali as a kid and didn't realise how my few hours of fun could cause so many health problems for animals. Even death. If someone had told me that, I'm sure I wouldn't have burst any noisy crackers . That's how this campaign idea came about, in order to create awareness . People are just unaware of how their actions might effect these animals. With PAWsitive, I hope I can spread the message to as many people as possible to take care and avoid making a lot of noise this Diwali.
BF: When did your first realise this was something you wanted to fight for?
AS: I love animals and have been supporting causes that protect their rights. Each year during festivities, we burst crackers but we don't think of how it affects animals and even birds. Not only does it scare them, it disrupts their everyday life pattern and also causes death in some cases. Diwali is a festival of lights and happiness, and can also be celebrated with your family and friends in a safe and healthy environment with some thought for our voiceless friends.
BF: How has your message been received by people?
AS: I am grateful that people are supporting this endeavour and with each voice we are creating awareness about the struggles animals and birds have to go through. It has become a topic of discussion, and a lot of people with pets are coming forth and talking about the struggles they go through each year during Diwali to make it safe for their pets. The response is overwhelming and I am grateful to everybody supporting this cause with me.
BF: What do you have to say to trolls who are maligning a good cause?
(Anushka was trolled on Twitter for apparently, "speaking out against an Hindu festival".)
AS: "If you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all" is something that is NOT practiced on Twitter. I don't understand how welfare of animals can have any negative reactions. But Twitter makes you realise the level of evolution of the so-called educated people in this country . Knowing this now, I ignore such things. I know, for a fact, that my intentions are right, and I believe in what I stand for – that is making this world a better place for animals and people. I will continue my effort, it's very close to my heart.
BF: What's your favourite memory with Dude?
Anushka: He greets everyone like he is meeting them after months even though he must've met us an hour ago. Animals have the capacity to give us so much unconditional love. I miss him so much when I am away from home. I never felt this home-sick before Dude.