Source: The Washington Post
By Swati Gupta
More than 350 Hindu priests have gathered in India this week for a multiday religious ceremony to pray that the gods deliver them from a modern-day scourge — air pollution. But the ceremony involves burning hundreds of mango trees — some 110,000 pounds of wood — in large fire pits constructed at the venue in the city of Meerut in northern India.
“Our scriptures dictate that a hawan [prayer ceremony] 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,” Girish Bansal, vice president of the group, the Shri Ayutchandi Mahayagya Samiti, told the Indian Express.
Millions more cars on the roads, unlicensed factories and rampant development have caused suffocating air pollution in many cities in India in recent years. A recent study linked almost 2.5 million deaths in India in 2015 to pollution, and last year the hazardous condition of the air led the chief minister to call the capital of the country, New Delhi, a “gas chamber.”