Persistently high levels of air pollution have made even the gods cover their noses up with masks. At least so is the case in Varanasi where a temple priest decided to cover the mounts of deities with masks in order to protect them from pollution.
The incident occurred at the Shiva-Parvati temple in Sigra in Varanasi where a priest of the temple decided to cover the idols of deities in cloth masks, much like the ones worn by mortals. His argument? If deities are given blankets in the winter and new clothes on festivals, why not give them a mask for pollution?
"Varanasi is a place of belief. We treat our idols as living deities and take pains to make them happy and comfortable. In summer, the idols are slathered with sandalwood paste to keep them cool and in winter, we cover them in woollens. Likewise, to save them from pollution, we have put masks on their faces," Harish Mishra, a priest at the temple told IANS.
The faces of Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, Goddess Kali and Sai Baba were covered with the masks, even as PM 2.5 levels in Varanasi remained high since Diwali.
However, covering the face of Goddess Kali proved to be more tedious. "She is an angry goddess and it is believed that her popped out tongue should not be covered," said the priest. He also said that seeingthe deities in masks had inspired many of the devotees to also put on masks.
Under the grips of severe air pollution, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday asked Lucknow administration to implement an odd-even traffic scheme (like the one implemented by Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi) at the earliest. The decision came after the Supreme Court rapped the state administration for its failure to curb stubble burning.
Images of the masked deities went viral on Twitter with many asking that if the gods are covering their face, what would happen to humans?
As air quality dips in Varanasi, deities in temple get anti-pollution masks https://t.co/WiLGPBU9d7 WHAT ABOUT PRIESTS AND DEVOTEES IN TEMPLE?????— G.Venkata Seshaiah (@seshaiah_g) November 6, 2019
Dieties at local temples were covered with mask "to save Them" from rising pollution in Varanasi. pic.twitter.com/MWIb6wM4n1— Ayan Aadil07 (@AAadil07) November 6, 2019
पर्यावरण की भयावह स्थिति को देखते हुए वाराणसी के सिगरा स्थित मंदिर में पुजारी हरीश मिश्रा और भक्तों ने बाबा भोलेनाथ समेत देवी दुर्गा और काली माता समेत साईं बाबा का पूजन कर मास्क पहनाया..#Varanasi #Pollution #VJpriyaJ pic.twitter.com/VyFOFdIhu5— Priya Jain | پریا جان | પ્રિયા જૈન (@VJpriyaJ) November 5, 2019
(With inputs from IANS)