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OMG! Priests Put Face Masks on Idols as Pollution in India Chokes Deities

New Delhi (Sputnik): The pollution in India seems to have also exposed gods here to the risks of choking as well.

In India’s historic riverside city of Varanasi, also known as “Banaras” and "Kashi", temple priests have covered the faces on the idols representing Goddess Parvati, Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva with masks, keeping them away from the toxic air.

Known as the "spiritual capital of India", Varanasi is a city on the banks of holy river Ganges in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples including "Kashi Vishwanath", the famous “Golden Temple” dedicated to Lord Shiva. The city is famous for its "Ganga Aarti", a ritual to offer prayers to the river Ganges. 

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According to media reports, the priests from Varanasi’s famous “Shiv-Parvati Temple” believe that if on festivals and winter nights, idols of gods and goddesses are presented with new clothes and woollens, it is necessary for them to keep up with the trend of face masks.

He also said that an increased number of worshippers have started visiting the temple while covering the mouth with anti-pollution masks, posibly inspired by the now-masked deities.

Netizens have shared their reactions to the amusing news on micro-blogging site Twitter, calling out the Narendra Modi government to take quick measures to tackle the issue of smoggy air throttling northern India.

​A politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party recently evoked amusement by blaming neighbouring Pakistan for the toxic air in Indian cities.

​However, many netizens supported the act of covering the temple deities with masks if it inspires the general public.

​Earlier last week, New Delhi's air quality index breached the “severe” and “emergency” mark after India celebrated its annual festival of lights Diwali with fire crackers, followed by farmers across the states of Punjab and Haryana burning the paddy stubble in their fields.

To combat air toxicity, Delhi's government rolled out the “odd-even” vehicle rationing scheme mandating private cars with license plate numbers ending in odd digits to stay off the roads on even dates and vice-versa until 15 November.

The scheme, however, will be suspended for a couple of coming days – 11th and 12th November – on the occasion of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday.

The exception in the “odd-even” rule is to allow the Sikh community to freely participate in the big celebration that is set to be held across India.

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