Between records and waste: India’s Diwali challenges air quality

In India, Diwali was celebrated last Sunday with the lighting of millions of clay oil lamps, breaking the Guinness World Record. However, the holiday coincides with heightened concerns about the country’s air quality.

Across the country, colorful lights decorate homes and streets to mark the annual Hindu festival of lights, symbolizing the triumph of light over darkness. But the real magnificence is experienced on the Sayu River in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the birthplace of Lord Rama, the most revered god in Hinduism.

As night fell on Saturday, devotees lit more than 2.22 million oil lamps and kept them lit for 45 minutes, as religious hymns echoed along the river banks. The impressive spectacle set a new world record, surpassing last year’s record of 1.5 million lights. As proof of the feat, representatives from Guinness World Records presented a certificate to the state’s top elected official, Yogi Adityanath.

More than 24,000 volunteers, mostly college students, worked together to achieve this new record. Pratibha Goyal, vice-chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Ayodhya, is one of the prominent organizers.

Diwali is considered a national holiday in India and is an opportunity to socialize and share gifts with family and friends. As part of the celebrations, people light clay oil lamps or candles and set off fireworks. Additionally, there is a special prayer ceremony dedicated to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who is known for bringing good luck and prosperity.

Over the weekend, authorities opened additional trains to accommodate the large number of people who wanted to return home and attend family celebrations.

However, the festival comes at a time of heightened concerns about air quality in India. Last week, the air quality index reached dangerously high levels of 400-500, more than 10 times above global safety thresholds. These levels can cause serious respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. This was despite unexpected rainfall and strong winds on Saturday, which caused temperatures to rise to 220 degrees, according to the government’s Central Pollution Control Board.

However, pollution levels are expected to rise again after the celebrations on Sunday night due to fireworks.

Last week, New Delhi officials closed primary schools and banned polluting vehicles and construction work in an effort to reduce the worst smog of the season. The situation caused breathing problems among residents and engulfed monuments and high-rise buildings in and around the Indian capital.

Source link

Leave a Comment