A hospital in Delhi conducted a havan (ritual burning of offerings) inside its centrally air-conditioned premises, leaving patients "struggling to breathe", according to a viral tweet.
Varghese K George, resident editor of The Hindu newspaper, shared a photo on March 25 from a hospital in Dwarka, showing a group of priests performing havan near the hospital's entrance.
George was at the hospital with a patient experiencing breathing trouble.
"God save us," he wrote. "(This is) inside the centrally air conditioned Manipal Health Hospital in Dwarka."
Since being shared, George's post has been viewed over a million times, evoking a flurry of reactions. Many expressed shock that the ritual was allowed in a closed space.
One Twitter user, journalist Aditi Agrawal, pointed out how the same hospital burnt ritual fires during the Delta wave of COVID-19 in 2021.
"Utterly ludicrous," she wrote.
This is the same hospital in the middle of the Delta wave. Utterly ludicrous. https://t.co/bs6smvEjL1
— Aditi Agrawal (@Aditi_muses) March 25, 2023
"They (the hospital staff) do some extra decorations on festivals around the idol placed near reception," another user wrote. "But doing this is pretty strange. Wonder what and who was the trigger?"
"How irrational, how unscientific," read another comment.
A doctor on Twitter shared screenshots from Manipal Hospital's own advisory about the danger to asthma patients from smoke.
Found this on their own page in which the link says, patient shouldn't be exposed to smoke. But it's alright to conduct these rituals in the hospital. pic.twitter.com/kDFaHdrHzD
— Varsha Patil (@DrVarshaa) March 26, 2023
Manipal Hospitals has issued an apology online. "Please DM us your contact details and our team will get back to you as soon as possible," it told George.
He wrote back saying: "Thanks for your kind response. This is nothing specific to me. Right at this moment, you can find dozens of your patients struggling to breathe, and coughing their lungs out at the OPD."
There was also a section of users who found nothing wrong with the ritual.
"The smoke from havan is minimal if they manage it properly," one Twitter user wrote.
"This is part of our culture and it is done for good," another person said.