Indians set world record

PEOPLE light firecrackers during the Hindu festival of Diwali, in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023.
PEOPLE light firecrackers during the Hindu festival of Diwali, in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. AP

MILLIONS of Indians celebrated Diwali on Sunday with a Guinness World Record number of bright earthen oil lamps as concerns about air pollution soared in the South Asian country.

Air pollution level is expected to soar again after the celebrations end Sunday night because of the fireworks used. A “hazardous” 400-500 level was recorded on the air quality index last week, more than 10 times the global safety threshold, which can cause acute and chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks. But on Saturday, unexpected rain and a strong wind improved the levels to 220, according to the government-run Central Pollution Control Board.

Across the country, dazzling multi-colored lights decked homes and streets as devotees celebrated the annual Hindu festival of light symbolizing the victory of light over darkness. But the spectacular and much-awaited massive lighting of the oil lamps took place — as usual —at Saryu River, in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state, birthplace of their most revered deity, the god Ram. At dusk on Saturday, devotees lit over 2.22 million lamps and kept them burning for 45 minutes as Hindu religious hymns filled the air at the banks of the river, setting a new world record. Last year, over 1.5 million earthen lamps were lit.

Guinness Book of World Records representatives presented a record certificate to the state’s top elected official Yogi Adityanath.

Diwali, a national holiday, is celebrated by socializing and exchanging gifts with family and friends. Many light earthen oil lamps or candles, and fireworks are set off as part of the celebrations. In the evening, a special prayer is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who is believed to bring luck and prosperity. / AP

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