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As air pollution spikes, idols in Varanasi temple get masks

As the air quality dipped across states in North India, photos from a temple in Varanasi are going viral after the deities were adorned with masks.

Idols at the popular Shiv-Parvati temple in the Sigra area of Varanasi were covered with white masks. The masks were put on idols of Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, and Sai Baba.

As the PM 2.5 levels rose in the city following Diwali celebrations, the priest of the temple reportedly decided to put the masks for the idols as well.

Speaking to local media outlets, the head priest of the temple said that if the idols of the gods can be adorned with blankets during winter then it’s only normal to protect them from the rising air pollution by using masks.

The temple’s priest also claimed that many devotees visiting the temples also started wearing masks after seeing the idols, and believes the move is raising awareness among children and adults.

On Tuesday, the number of active fires in the fields of Punjab and Haryana hit the season’s high, with official records suggesting over 6,600 such incidents in a single day. This is more than twice the number of farm fires on Sunday, when the two states recorded roughly 2,900 farm fires.

A Union government scientist explained that the speed of upper winds — at around 80 km/hr — was such that smoke from the fields blew over the capital, and ended up in the skies of the Varanasi region. And the winds will continue for some time, see a temporary drop till November 7, and then again pick up.

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