As millions of Hindu celebrated the sun god during Chhath, the sun itself continued elusive in Delhi as the sky became covered by an impenetrable smog.
The bustling Indian capital, home to more than 25 million people, has been suffocated under a thick blanket of toxic fog for days, with pollution at its highest level in three years.
According to AirVisual which is an independent online air quality index monitor, Delhi was the most polluted important city in the world on Monday, at double the level of Lahore in Pakistan, which was a distant second.
The US Embassy air quality index, which measures the intensity of tiny PM 2.5 particles, exceeded 500, which means a much higher potential for worsening of heart and lung disease amongst the general population, as well as an improved likelihood of premature death affecting both the old and people with breathing conditions.
The severity of the crisis has forced leaders to take action – residents have been advised to stay indoors as much as possible, schools have been closed, and strict car-rationing measures have been enforced.
On Monday, only private vehicles with number plates ending in odd numbers were permitted to take to the roads, with even number plates permitted on Tuesday and so on.
The output from exhaust pipes pumping out fumes on Delhi’s overcrowded roads has an impact on air quality year-round in the capital – as it does in cities worldwide – with coal-powered factories and wood-burning stoves also causing issues.