Kumbh Mela National

Coronavirus | Modi seeks curtailment of Haridwar Kumbh Mela amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Devotees gather to offer prayers during the third 'Shahi Snan' of the Kumbh Mela 2021, at Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar, Wednesday, April 14, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

As over 2.3 lakh COVID-19 cases were reported in India on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought a curtailment of the Kumbh Mela underway in Haridwar, with the Juna akhara, a prominent congregation of Hindu seers, announcing that it was ending its participation in the event at his behest. 

Tweeting on Saturday morning Mr. Modi said that he had spoken to Swami Awadeshananda Giri over the telephone and, after enquiring about the health of the Hindu seers gathered for the Kumbh, suggested that the event be curtailed. “I made a suggestion that now that the Shahi Snans (rituals baths in the Ganga on specific dates) were done, the rest of the events could be undertaken in a symbolic way,” he tweeted about his conversation with Swami Awadeshananda Giri. 

Swami Awadeshananda Giri, who heads the Juna akhara, later announced that “protecting the lives of Indians was more important amid the rising pandemic” and that the akhara had today performed the ritual immersion of deities, which usually happens at the end of the Kumbh. 

The Kumbh Mela sees lakhs of devotees converge every 12 years and involves many rituals, including ritual baths in the Ganga on specific dates. This time, on the day of the Baisakhi Snan on April 14, more than 9.5 lakh devotees from various akharas took a dip. One seer, Mahamandleshwar Kapil Dev Das, reportedly died of COVID-19, while scores of seers tested positive for the coronavirus. Amid rising cases, the Kumbh, with its large gathering of people, was being seen as a super spreader event. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani declared that all pilgrims returning from the Kumbh to the State would undergo COVID-19 tests at railway stations and other ports of entry. 

Prime Minister Modi’s suggestion to curtail the Kumbh follows a huge spike in cases in Uttarakhand, the State hosting the event. 

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 9:16:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/amid-surge-in-covid-19-cases-pm-modi-seeks-curtailment-of-kumbh-mela/article34341520.ece

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