Hindu gods given FACE MASKS in Varanasi temple as Indian city coughs and chokes on smog (PHOTOS)

Hindu gods given FACE MASKS in Varanasi temple as Indian city coughs and chokes on smog (PHOTOS) Air quality has plummeted dramatically across northern India in recent weeks, so much so that one temple in Varanasi has taken the extreme measure of shielding its idols from the smog with protective face masks.

Photos of masked deities Lord Shiva, Goddess Durga, Goddess Kali and Sai Baba at the Shiv-Parvati temple in Varanasi have been shared across Indian social media.

Pollution levels rose even further as revellers set off firecrackers during the recent Diwali celebrations. 

The head priest at the temple said that the gods are often given blankets during the winter as protection against the cold, so the staff at the temple thought it made sense to protect them from the pollution as well. 

“Varanasi is a place of belief. We treat our idols as living deities and take pains to make them happy and comfortable. In summer, the idols are slathered with sandalwood paste to keep them cool and in winter, we cover them in woollens. Likewise, to save them from pollution, we have put masks on their faces,” Harish Mishra, a priest at the temple told .

The priest also claimed that devotees began emulating the idols and wearing face masks of their own, thus raising awareness among young and old alike. 

The number of active fires in the Punjab and Haryana regions hit seasonal highs of over 6,600 in just one day, doubling the total number of fires raging in the region since Sunday. 

Strong winds of up to 80kmph have dispersed pollution across northern India and into the capital Delhi, much to the chagrin of its some 29.5 million residents.

The winds exacerbating the pollution problem are expected to die down for a time, but the respite from the smothering smog will be short-lived, lasting only until November 7, when they are expected to begin blowing stronger once again.

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