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After Kumbh Mela visit, Nepal’s former King Gyanendra tests COVID-19 positive

Nepal's last king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Nepal’s former royals, Queen Komal Rajya Lakshmi Devi and King Gyanendra, have tested positive for COVID-19 infection. Confirmation of their status came days after the couple returned from India where they participated in the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.

Gyanendra reached Haridwar on April 11 and met Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Kailashananda Giri Maharaj of Niranjani Akhara during the visit and interacted with a large number of sadhus and pilgrims. He was formally felicitated by the religious figures in an event where he was hailed as the “Hindu samrat”.

At the event, Gyanendra was seen interacting with seers without a mask. He was subsequently criticised for attending the public ceremony without COVID-19 protocol. He also participated and led the procession of the Niranjani Akhara on April 12 during the Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela.

Nepal's monarchy was abolished in 2008 and Gyanendra is regarded as the last king to serve the formerly Hindu kingdom of Nepal. However, the royal family continues to maintain close ties with various ‘akharas’ and pilgrimage centres in India where the king is regarded as a divine figure. Gyanendra in the past has visited famous temples of India following the tradition of the royal household of Kathmandu.

In the recent months of political uncertainty of Nepal, there were several protests in support of reviving the monarchy in Nepal. The visit of Gyanendra to Haridwar was the first public event in India by the former king in a long time.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 4:29:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/after-kumbh-mela-visit-nepals-former-king-gyanendra-tests-covid-19-positive/article34366544.ece

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