In a Hindu religious ceremony scheduled to last nine days around 350 priests yesterday began burning 50,000 kg (55 tons) of mango wood in special firepits – to combat pollution.
According to this report, the ceremony, known as a “mahayagya”, began at in the Meerut district. It was organized by the members of Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti to improve air quality, but the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) has said that the ritual will definitely lead to more pollution.
So, why won’t it intervene to stop this madness?
R K Tyagi, regional officer of the UPPCB said:
There is no policy under which a probe can be issued in this matter – so there is little that we can do. It will also be inappropriate for me to comment on the event.
Other reports indicate that the authorities are afraid of ruffling religious feathers. This was one. It reported that the ritual was “related to a particular religion” and:
How exactly does burning vast quantities of wood, plus a bunch of other stuff including cow shit, reduce pollution?
Wearing saffron robes, members of the Hindu body, some as young as 16, sat around the fire pits even as they suffered watery and bloodshot eyes from the smoke filling up the venue and billowing out.
Girish Bansal, the Vice-President of Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti, explained:
Our scriptures dictate that a hawan helps purify the air and if we keep doing this, air pollution will reduce considerably. We are doing our bit towards mankind, flora and fauna and the environment.
We planned this in October last year, and read a report by NASA too on the Internet that says the ozone layer above India is the best and we need to preserve it. This mahayagya will help in that.
Bansal also said that apart from 50,000 kg of mango wood, they will also burn 12,000 kg of sesame, 6,000 kg of rice, 2,500 kg of jaggery, 51 tins of desi ghee and three trolleys full of cow dung cakes.
Om Prakash, a priest, added:
The smoke from the hawan is not harmful because of ingredients used — desi ghee has come from desi cows in Karnal. This is not like the smoke from factories, it’s pure. It’s also because of the chanting.