Hindus Burning Mango Trees to Fight Pollution

The smoke will be a combination of toxic air pollutants and particle pollution

Over 350 Hindu priests have taken part in a nine-day long ceremony to pray the Gods will save them from atmospheric pollutants. It’s believed to be a bid to protect themselves from the 21st-century threat of air pollution. Astoundingly, the ceremony involved approximately 110,000 pounds of mango trees being burned in multiple fire pits. The event, known as Mahayagya, was in Meerut, a city in northern India.

India suffers from considerable air pollution. Innumerable cars, uncontrolled development, and unlicensed factories have resulted in Indian cities being massively polluted. A study done in 2015 concluded that pollution is the cause of approximately 2.5 million deaths that year. In 2017, the New Delhi chief minister labeled his own city as a veritable “gas chamber.”

The ritual started on March 18. The Mahayagya was lit by a group calling themselves Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti. The Mahayagya, or sacrifice, took place over 15,000 square feet. About 108 fire-pits were crafted for the sacred activity. The event will end after 10 million offerings have been made.

Environmental experts predictably have reservations about this event. R.K. Tyagi, the regional officer of UP Pollution Control Board lamented to the media that there exists no such policy by which an investigation could be issued in such matters. He made it clear that the UPPCB is helpless when it comes to such matters. The smoke from the Mahayagya will be a harmful one. The smoke will be a combination of toxic air pollutants and particle pollution.

The Hindu priests clearly have no knowledge of science and the environment. The sacrificial fire will be lighted using clarified butter (locally known as ghee) prepared from cow milk. Gyanendra Agarwal, the president of Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti, claims any fire using clarified butter cannot cause pollution. He said the priests will also add barley, rice, and seeds to help in the purification process. The organization accepts donations of black sesame seeds, ghee boxes, rice, and barley. To justify his organization’s actions, Girish Bansal, the group’s vice president, said that Hindu scriptures prescribe a prayer ceremony to purify the air and if done continuously “air pollution will reduce considerably.”

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