The latest climate change scare comes from India:
Hindus who believe in the god Shiva are blaming global warming for the melting of the holy "phallos-shaped" ice stalagmite in a Himalayan cave:
A very long way from home, Arvin Prasad Goel clutched his wife’s hand as they prepared to eat in a makeshift communal kitchen set up on the Himalayan mountainside.
They were weary from a four-day trek through rough terrain and cold weather to visit the Amarnath cave, perched at an altitude of 12,600 feet (3,880 metres) in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The cave is revered by many Hindus as a shrine of the god Shiva, whom they worship in the form of an ice stalagmite known as the Shiv lingam. Over a 45-day period each year, more than half a million pilgrims make the arduous, 60 km (38 mile) uphill trek to pray before the phallus-shaped formation.
Goel, a 60-year-old resident of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state, has made numerous pilgrimages to Amarnath, and said his faith made the journey possible.
"For our age and health this trek is simply impossible, but it seems Bolay (Lord Shiva) infuses in us the intrinsic power to climb the difficult terrain," he said.
But this year, faith was no match for warmer conditions on the mountain, as the couple found when they finally arrived at the cave.
"To my dismay, the lingam had melted and I could not do the darshan (religious observance),” said Goel. “I couldn’t let my wife see the holy lingam.”
But by ten days prior to the end of the pilgrimage period, the stalagmite had completely melted, disappointing thousands of devotees like the Goels.
Shrine Board officials attribute the early melting of the ice to the effects of climate change on the region. In their view, this important cultural practice is at risk from a warming planet.
“The Shiva lingam melted simply because of a warm summer this year,” said. R. K. Goyal, chief executive officer of the SASB ( Shri Amarnath Shrine Board). "The overall increase in temperature is the reason.”
A local meteoroligist seems to have a more realistic view of the disappearance of the Shiva lingam:
“During the first 25 days on average 15,000 to 20,000 people visited the holy cave (each day), and this does have an impact,” he added.
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