On Sunday night, millions of Indians marked Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. It produced a noteworthy display of bright oil lamps, achieving a Guinness World Record. All this happened despite concerns about elevated air pollution nationwide. Streets and homes across India shone brightly. Moreover, millions celebrated Diwali with a record-breaking 2.2 million earthen oil lamps at the Saryu River in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the birthplace of the esteemed divinity Ram.
Despite the high concerns about air pollution, people resisted firecracker bans, lighting blazes, and candles in several cities. New Delhi People celebrated the Diwali festival with devotion by magnifying what Diwali is and displaying magnificent lights over homes and streets. It all symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness.
As dusk fell on Saturday, the lamps lit up on the riverbanks for 45 minutes, along with Hindu religious rhymes. This brightness is a triumph that surpassed last year’s record of 1.5 million earthen lamps.
Reps from the Guinness Book of World Records presented a certificate for Diwali 2023 to Yogi Adityanath, the state’s top elected official, to praise and acknowledge their achievement.
There were more than 24,000 volunteers to prepare for this record-setting event of Diwali, mostly college students, with the coordination of Pratibha Goyal, the vice-chancellor of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in Ayodhya.
Diwali’s story extends as a nationwide holiday in India, exchanging gifts, socializing, or lighting earthen oil lamps or candles. Fireworks commonly contribute to the festivities. In addition, a special prayer to the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi in the evening symbolizes luck and fortune.
What is Diwali? It is an annual Hindu festival celebrated across faiths, symbolizing light over darkness. Diwali’s observance extends to the South Asian dispersal, including Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Fiji, and Malaysia. People celebrate with light candles, set off fireworks, and decorate homes and streets with diyas or oil lamps to create a spectacular view known as “Deepavali (a row of light).”
Despite Diwali celebrations, concerns about worsening air quality in India were at their peak. About a week before Diwali, the air quality index recorded a hazardous level of 400-500, ten times more than the global safety limit. However, according to the government-run Central Pollution Control Board, the unexpected rain and strong winds on Saturday improved the levels to 220.
Authorities predicted the revival of air pollution after the Diwali celebrations, which can enhance the use of fireworks. Some Indian states banned fireworks sales and imposed numerous restrictions to address the issue. Another solution emerged by authorities and urged residents to use ‘green crackers,’ which usually emit fewer pollutants.
To combat seasonal haze and smog on Diwali, New Delhi, officials temporarily closed primary schools and banned polluted vehicles and construction work. In addition, the government has deployed water sprinklers and anti-smog guns. The capital was frequently ranked high for poor air quality, especially during winter when the burning crop residue matches the cooler temperatures.
Diwali 2023 holds significance as authorities inaugurated a long-awaited temple of the Hindu deity Ram in Ayodhya at the site where a 16th-century Babri mosque was demolished in 1992. The destruction at this site sparked significant Hindu-Muslim violence. Eventually, a Supreme Court verdict came up in 2019, allowing the construction of a temple in the place of a demolished mosque.
Amidst the broader environmental concerns, the record-breaking celebrations and temple inauguration describe the multifaceted nature of Diwali in India. Diwali 2023 remained a cherished and enthusiastically celebrated festival, reflecting unity, the significance of light, and cultural traditions.