Indian citizens have achieved a new global feat by commemorating Diwali, despite concerns about increasing air pollution.
On Sunday, a record-breaking number of bright earthen oil lamps were lit as millions of Indians celebrated Diwali. However, there were growing concerns about air pollution in the country.
Throughout the nation, brilliant and diverse lights adorned houses and roads as followers observed the yearly Hindu celebration of illumination, representing the triumph of light over darkness.
The highly anticipated and awe-inspiring lighting of the oil lamps occurred, as it typically does, at Saryu River in Ayodhya, located in the Uttar Pradesh state of India. This is believed to be the birthplace of their most venerated deity, the god Ram.
On Saturday evening, followers illuminated more than 2.22 million lamps and maintained them for 45 minutes while Hindu prayers were chanted at the riverbanks, achieving a new global achievement. In the previous year, they had lit over 1.5 million clay lamps.
The Guinness Book of World Records awarded a certificate to Yogi Adityanath, the highest elected official in the state, after counting the number of lamps.
More than 24,000 volunteers, primarily college students, assisted in the preparations for the new record, according to Pratibha Goyal, vice chancellor of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Ayodhya.
Diwali, a holiday widely observed throughout India, is marked by spending time with loved ones and exchanging presents. Traditional customs include lighting clay lamps or candles, and setting off fireworks. As night falls, a special prayer is offered to the Hindu deity Lakshmi, who is thought to bring good fortune and abundance.
During the weekend, additional trains were scheduled by authorities in order to accommodate the large number of individuals traveling to their hometowns to participate in family festivities. This occurred as concerns regarding air pollution in India increased. Last week, the air quality index recorded a “hazardous” level of 400-500, which is more than 10 times the global safety limit. This level of pollution can lead to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma attacks.
However, on Saturday, there was unexpected rainfall and strong winds that raised the levels to 220, as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board, which is run by the government.
The utilization of fireworks during Sunday night’s celebrations is likely to cause a surge in air pollution levels.
Officials in New Delhi took action last week to combat the severe haze and smog that has been causing respiratory issues and covering landmarks and tall buildings. Primary schools were closed and measures were implemented to limit pollution from vehicles and construction activities.
Officials utilized water sprinklers and anti-smog guns in an effort to manage the haze, while numerous individuals resorted to wearing masks to avoid the effects of air pollution.
Almost every year, New Delhi is ranked as the city with the worst air quality among many cities in India. This is especially noticeable during the winter season when the burning of crop residues in nearby states coincides with cooler weather, resulting in a dangerous buildup of smoke.
Certain states in India have prohibited the sale of fireworks and implemented other measures in an effort to reduce pollution. Officials have also encouraged individuals to use “green crackers” that produce fewer pollutants than traditional firecrackers. However, previous bans of this nature have frequently been ignored.
This year’s Diwali festivities were significant as preparations were made for the grand opening in January of a temple for the Hindu deity Ram, which has been under construction for a long time. The temple is located at the site where a 16th-century mosque, known as Babri, was previously demolished in Ayodhya city, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
In December 1992, a group of Hindus used pickaxes and crowbars to destroy the Babri Masjid mosque, resulting in widespread violence between Hindus and Muslims. Approximately 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, lost their lives. In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that a temple could be constructed on the site where the mosque once stood.