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When gods put on their pollution masks

Priests at a Varanasi temple do much to instigate soul-searching.

ET Bureau|
Nov 12, 2019, 08.37 AM IST
​Priest perform the ritual as 'Shivling' is covered with mask after air quality worsens in Varanasi.
A priest performs the ritual as 'Shivling' is covered with mask after air quality worsens in Varanasi.
At the Shiva-Parvati temple at Sigra, Varanasi, the priest has put pollution masks on the deities. The picture of the idols wearing masks is redolent of the piquancy of the clash of modernity with tradition and resonates with the eclecticism of Indian tradition.

Gods never wore masks to keep suspended particulate matter out of their system, even though smoke from oil lamps and burning incense was commonplace in their sanctum sanctorum.

But, then, do gods need protection, leave alone their images made of base element? Aren’t these metal, clay or stone idols mere representations of metaphysical verities immune to physical harm? By venturing to offer them protection, is the devotee overstepping his station visà-vis the gods? After all, if gods do need protection, and mere humans are capable of providing it, it does invert the roles of the protector and the protected.

Another way to see the matter would be as pure metaphor, since even gods themselves are illusion, or Maya, meant for the convenience of those too ignorant to grasp the truth of Brahman, the only reality that manifests itself as everything that moves or is inert and manifests as the creator or creation. Idols are metaphor, even the masks on them are metaphor, a token of human love for the divine. Masks on gods do serve to provoke reflection beyond a transactional prayer.

Pollution On The Rise: These 6 Common Mistakes Are Hurting Your Health

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Living In A Gas Chamber

6 Nov, 2019
Delhi has, once again, been transformed into a gas chamber, with its residents suffering greatly. According to the government's air quality monitor, SAFAR, the overall AQI (Air Quality Index) in the National Capital, on the day after Diwali stood at 506, touching 999 at 4 am. The perpetual smog in the air is leading to numerous health issues, including: - Dryness and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin - Headache - Fatigue - Shortness of breath - Hypersensitivity and allergies - Sinus congestion - Coughing and sneezing - Dizziness - Nausea As the problem persists, we asked Dr Piyush Goyal, senior consultant, pulmonology and critical care at Gurugram's Columbia Asia Hospital, to help us decode some common mistakes that people make that may be worsening the effects of pollution.

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