Shahi snan in Haridwar | Lakhs ignore COVID-19 concerns to take holy dip

By noon, between eight and 10 lakh people took a bath in the river, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar, who was supervising the arrangements at Haridwar, said.

April 14, 2021 03:24 pm | Updated 03:26 pm IST - Dehradun (Uttarakhand):

Devotees gather to offer prayers during the third Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar.

Devotees gather to offer prayers during the third Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar.

Throwing caution to the wind amid rising cases of coronavirus , thousands of seers congregated on Wednesday at Har ki Pairi in Haridwar to take a dip in the Ganga during the third shahi snan of the Kumbh Mela .

The ‘royal bath’ marked Mesh Sankranti and Baisakhi , and fell two days after a similar convergence of ‘sadhus’ and other devotees for the second shahi snan – events where following social-distancing norms appears almost impossible.

By noon, between eight and 10 lakh people took a bath in the river, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar, who was supervising the arrangements at Haridwar, said.

Sadhus from four of the 13 akhadas were through with the ‘snan’ by this time. The officer said the event was going on without any hindrance.

He said the crowds at the Ganga ghats were much smaller than expected at the third shahi snan – considered the most important in the series – and attributed this to the COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Police personnel were seen distributing masks among people in the Mela area. However, social-distancing norms were violated openly by the seers when they and their followers descended the steps at Har ki Pairi to wade into the river. No masks were worn by a large proportion of them.

The seers from the akhadas took the dip along with their revered deities carried in ornate palanquins at Har Ki Pairi , which was reserved exclusively for them.

Lakhs of common devotees bathed at the other ghats of the river in Haridwar and Rishikesh.

Seers and Naga sanyasis of the Niranjani Akhada led by Acharya Kailashanand Giri were the first to bathe in the river along with Anand Akhada seers. They were followed by the Joona Akhada , which has the highest number of sadhus led by Swami Avadheshanand.

The Mahanirvani Akhada seers came next, as the batches followed one another according to their allotted time slots.

All akhadas have to finish taking a dip at Har Ki Pairi before sunset so time management is very important, Mela IG Sanjay Gunjyal said.

The shahi snans , and the Kumbh Mela , have raised concerns over their role in possibly adding to rising coronavirus cases in the country. Uttarakhand recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday with 1,925 people testing positive.

Dehradun with 775 cases and Haridwar with 594 were the biggest contributors to the day’s tally.

On the initial hours of the third shahi snan , the DGP said there was no disorder anywhere. He said this was because of the expansion of infrastructure in Haridwar over the past few months, including the addition of more ghats which has helped in better crowd management.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.