A Guinness World Record was in sight for people in the temple town of Ayodhya on Saturday as they gathered to celebrate Diwali by lighting earthen oil lamps.
The lighting of lamps took place at the banks of the Saryu River in Ayodhya, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, which is the birthplace of one of the most important deities of the Hindu faith, Lord Rama.
Decked in fairy lights and shimmering diyas, the river banks were filled with devotees celebrating the Hindu festival of light, which marks the occasion of Lord Rama returning to his kingdom in Ayodhya and the triumph of good over evil.
Over 2.22 million lamps were lit as the sun set on Saturday, with devotees basking in the glow for 45 minutes as hymns of the Hindu faith resonated along the banks, establishing a new world record and surpassing the previous year’s count of 1.5 million lamps.
The previous world record for the most number of earthen oil lamps being lit was held by Ujjain at 1.8 million diyas on the occasion of Shivratri this year.
Upon counting the lit lamps, the representatives of the Guinness Book of World Records presented Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath with a certificate.
Considered a “healthier” alternative to bursting firecrackers, the lighting of lamps is encouraged by many as the safer way to celebrate the festival.
Hindus across India celebrated the festival of light on Saturday and Sunday amid concerns about the rising air pollution levels in the country. In Delhi, a “hazardous” level AQI was recorded last week in the range of 400-500, exceeding the global safety threshold set by the United Nations Environment Programme by more than 10 times.
These AQI figures pose risks of acute and chronic bronchitis as well as asthma attacks.
However in a sudden change of events, on Friday, unforeseen rain and strong winds led to an improvement in the air quality in the national capital, bringing the levels down to 220, still in the moderate-poor range, as reported by the Central Pollution Control Board.
On Monday, a day after Diwal, the cities of Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai seemed engulfed in a thick blanket of smog and ended up on the world’s most polluted cities list after Diwali, as per data from IQAir.
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