Diwali Delayed: The festival of lights may not happen


Saturday, November 14 is the Diwali “festival of lights”.  Though primarily a hindu religious festival, people in other countries hold parties and cultural events.  The Taipei India Music and Culture Centre and Indians in Taiwan groups will host a Diwali event in Taipei, sponsored by the Taiwan government.  This was expected given the growing anti-PRC “Milk Tea Alliance” between Taiwan and India(I won’t go, I’ll be attending the second pride parade in Taichung.)

In India, however, Diwali celebrations will be severely muted this year, and not just because of the mass spread of COVID-19 among crowds.  Smog and pollution are at hazardous levels; the air quality index was above 180 several times this week, and 25 is considered safe.  There is talk of banning fireworks to prevent unnecessary added pollution.

Ahead of Diwali, New Delhi residents fear they’ll be choking on smog instead of celebrating

New Delhi (CNN) People across India are preparing for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. They’re selling colorful lamps, cleaning and decorating homes, and buying clothes for the celebrations.

In the capital city New Delhi, residents are also preparing — by scrambling to buy air purifiers and protesting the use of firecrackers.

Diwali has created a persistent pollution problem in India for years. It’s typically celebrated with firecrackers, which contribute to already massive amounts of smog in many Indian cities — after last year’s Diwali, parts of New Delhi reported levels of pollution almost 40 times those considered “safe” by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Pollution also worsens at this time of year as temperatures drop and farmers use fire to clear land. The air quality index, which ranks pollution on a scale of 0 to 500, peaked at 256 on Thursday, classed as “very unhealthy,” before lowering to an “unhealthy” 183 on Friday.

[. . .]

The rise in sales [of air purifiers] may reflect greater public awareness of the problem — earlier this week, students across the country held anti-firecracker rallies. Many students wore face masks, held props like globes and respirator tubes, and held signs that read, “Let’s celebrate a pollution free Diwali” and “Burn your ego, not crackers.”

From AP:

In India, polluted air spells trouble for virus patients

NEW DELHI (AP) — A thick quilt of smog lingered over the Indian capital and its suburbs on Friday, fed by smoke from raging agricultural fires that health experts worry could worsen the city’s fight against the coronavirus.

Air pollution in parts of New Delhi have climbed to levels around nine times what the World Health Organization considers safe, turning grey winter skies into a putrid yellow and shrouding national monuments. Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, climbed to around 250 micrograms per cubic meter, which is considered hazardous to breathe, according to the state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research.

The throat-burning smoke regularly turns the city of 20 million people into the world’s most polluted at this time of the year.

This year’s haze, however, comes as New Delhi battles a new surge in coronavirus infections, and health experts fear that if the air quality continues to worsen, then people with chronic medical conditions could become more vulnerable.

“We are already registering more infections after the air quality started to deteriorate. I fear things will only get worse from here on,” said Arvind Kumar, a chest surgeon in New Delhi.

Tis reminds me of the Yellow Wind from when I lived in South Korea.  Air pollution during spring (and other times of the year) was terrible, exacerbated by toxic waste from the PRC’s industries.  I had at least one throat infection every year, sometimes two or three in the same season.

The video below is from November 2018, long before COVID-19.  It’s so bad in 2020 that North Korea is complaining about the toxic dust, though their claim that it “carries COVID-19” is nonsense (as is their failure to mention that the dust comes from China).

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