In God’s Name, We Choked Gods Too. Now, Idols Adorn Masks To Fight Pollution In Varanasi
The spread of pollution in North India is no secret. Now, as the national capital and its adjoining areas had come to a standstill for well over a week. While the thick spread of toxic smog has serious implications on human health, it seems even the gods and deities are not safe from the spreading pollution.
Which is perhaps why idols of deities in Varanasi, which is the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been equipped with masks by devotees. The reason behind this initiative is apparently to protect the omnipotent from the harmful impacts of pollution.
In the days following the Hindu festival of Diwali, which was celebrated with much pomp and fervour in most parts of the country, pollution levels shot up to dangerous levels and numerous cases of respiratory illnesses were identified among the residents of the impacted regions. At the same time, experts from the field of health and those in the understanding of the impacts of pollution warned that people residing in North India may lose as many as seven years from their life span.
Located next to the revered Kashi Vidyapith, the idols in the Shiva-Parvati temple have been equipped with masks by the priest and the devotees. The aim is to protect the deities, who are believed to protect all human beings, from the impacts of pollution. Several other temples in Uttar Pradesh, particularly Varanasi, have also been showing similar instances.
While it may seem hilarious in the hindsight but all of us need to ponder over the impacts of pollution and the rising levels of toxicity. It is customary in Hindu rituals to bathe, dress and feed the idols of deities as a belief that has been carried down from generations. Therefore at a time when pollution levels have risen to dangerous levels, this also sends out a very concerning message that nobody is safe from pollution.
Ironically, it also stands to convey the utter disregard for environmental norms that the humans have displayed. Since time immemorial, it is believed that the Hindus lived in close harmony with the nature. In fact most saints and religious figures propagated the need to respect the nature to their followers. In the contemporary scenario, however, we have polluted the environment to the extent that even gods are presented to be choking.
And which is more, we have done this in God's name. The violation of strict regulations to prevent the use of firecrackers that release toxic gases is a case in point.