Observing a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the duration of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar has been reduced to only one month for the first time in its history. Also, pilgrims must have a "negative" RT-PCR test report to attend the mega congregation. According to the government authorities, the gathering will take place on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, from April 1 to 30. The three "shahi snan" (holy bath) of the Kumbh Mela are scheduled to held on April 12, 14, and 27. However, Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat said on March 15 that the COVID-19 report is not needed to attend 'shahi snan' during the Kumbh Mela.
The Uttarakhand High Court has made a "negative" RT-PCR test report, not older than 72 hours before arrival, mandatory for devotees. Devotees who have received the Coronavirus vaccine must upload their certificate and follow the instructions on an official site. The Uttarakhand government had asked people to strictly follow COVID-19-appropriate actions during the Kumbh in light of the recent increase in infections in various parts of the country. This comes after the Centre called for stringent steps to monitor the spread of COVID-19 during the Kumbh.
On March 21, Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Rajesh Bhushan wrote to Chief Secretary Uttarakhand highlighting the concerns raised by the high-level Central team in its visit to Uttarakhand and about the need for stringent measures to control the spread of COVID-19 during Kumbh Mela. Rajesh Bhushan, Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, wrote to Chief Secretary Uttarakhand on March 21 underlining the concerns posed by the high-level Central team during their visit to Uttarakhand and the need for stringent steps to monitor the spread of COVID-19 during the Kumbh Mela. On March 16 and 17 (2021), a central team led by Director NCDC visited Uttarakhand to assess the state's medical and public health preparedness for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
During the mela, thousands of devotees take a dip in the holy river, with the number increasing significantly on the days of "shahi snan." On the occasions of Chaitra Pratipada on April 13 and Ram Navami on April 21, authorities anticipate large crowds. The congregation takes place every 12 years and lasts about three and a half months. Its most recent edition took place in Haridwar in 2010, from January 14 to April 28.
(with inputs from PTI)
(Picture Credit: PTI)