Delhi Closes Over 1,800 Schools in Response to Dangerous Smog [The New York Times] “For the first time ever, more than 1,800 public primary schools in India’s capital will close on Saturday to protect children from exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution, the authorities said on Friday. The decision affects more than a million children. A thick, acrid smog has settled over the capital over the past week, a combination of smoke from burning crops in surrounding agricultural states, fireworks on the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust and vehicle emissions. Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, reached 600 micrograms per cubic meter in different parts of the city this week, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. Sustained exposure to that concentration of PM 2.5 is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day, said Sarath Guttikunda, the director of Urban Emissions, an independent research group.” [more inside]
The Festival of Lights, Good vs. Evil Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights that falls each year in October or November. This year, Diwali is on the 21st of October 2006. Legends about Diwali are many, from the story of Prince Prahlad, immortal in his faith in the universe to the story of Ram and Sita returning from exile to Ayodhya. My favourite is not a story so much as a snippet of what is actually said to happen tonight, not the mythology behind it. Lakshmi walks tonight, she is the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and lamps [diya or deep] are lit and placed at hearths and entrances so as to help her find her way. Accompanying her is the elephant headed one, Ganesh, the remover of obstacles and giver of knowledge. Just welcome them into your home.
Bomb blasts in New Delhi. The three explosions seemed to target shoppers preparing for the festival of Diwali (previous post on Diwali here).
Happy Diwali (or Deepavali) to all Hindu, Indian, Bengali, Punjabi & Sikh metafilter members & readers. Diwali, a 5-day festival, is as important to Hindus and Indians as Christmas is to Christians. The festival is also known as Festival of Lights and its rich history and traditions are rooted in the Hindu epic Ramayana (written in the Sanskrit language) (picture gallery of Ramayana). But there are several legends of how Diwali originated. Although this important festival is celebrated differently in different parts of India and other countries, the significance of Diwali is the unifying belief and celebration of the victory of good / righteousness / light / knowledge over evil / vice/ darkness / ignorance, which is symbolized by the lighting of oil lamps, candles and scented incense during this festival. Enjoy!