Amid a surge in the number of Covid cases across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday morning urged that the mega Kumbh Mela “should now only be symbolic amid the coronavirus crisis”.
While stressing that it will give a boost to the fight against the Covid19 pandemic, the Prime Minister added that he spoke to one of the top seers – Swami Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhara – over the phone and made an appeal about the religious festival that attracts millions of devotees.
“I appealed that two ”shahi snan” (royal baths) have taken place and Kumbh (participation) should now be kept symbolic. This will give a boost to the fight against this crisis,” PM Modi tweeted in Hindi.
मैंने प्रार्थना की है कि दो शाही स्नान हो चुके हैं और अब कुंभ को कोरोना के संकट के चलते प्रतीकात्मक ही रखा जाए। इससे इस संकट से लड़ाई को एक ताकत मिलेगी। @AvdheshanandG
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 17, 2021
The Prime Minister’s appeal comes in the wake of nearly 2,000 devotees testing positive for Covid-19 at Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in around a week’s time
Meanwhile responding to PM Modi’s tweet, Swami Avdheshanand replied in Hindi: “We respect PM Modi’s appeal. Saving lives is sacred. I request people to not gather for the ritual bath in large numbers and follow all Covid protocols.”
This year, the mega Kumbh Mela or pitcher festival has already been shortened to just one month from April 1 to 30 due to the pandemic. Usually, the event is held from mid-January to April.
The Kumbh Mela has been a point of discussion over the past weeks as pictures emerge from the religious site showing participants violating all covid protocols creating concern that it may become the ‘super-spreader’ of the virus.
Kumbh Mela – a mass congregation of pilgrims who gather to take a holy dip in a sacred river- “is considered to be the largest peaceful gathering in the world,” according to a government website. A ritual bath – at a predetermined time and place – is the major event of the festival, it says.
India has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases for the last few weeks. This morning, 2,34,692 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in the biggest daily spike so far.