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Duration of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar Curtailed to One Month

Duration of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar Curtailed to One Month

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NEW DELHI, Mar 25: After making a Covid negative certificate compulsory, the Uttarakhand government on Thursday decided to curtail the duration of the upcoming “Kumbh Mela” in the temple city of Haridwar on the foot of the Himalayas.

The duration of the Haridwar ‘Kumbh Mela’ has been curtailed to just one month for the first time in its history in view of a recent surge in Covid-19 cases. According to a notification, the congregation on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand will now take place from April 1 to 30, with three ‘shahi snan’ (major bathing) dates on April 12, 14 and 27.

Yesterday, the Uttarakhand government had made it mandatory for devotees to bring a negative RT-PCR report not older than 72 hours for attending the upcoming mega congregation.

The occasion usually lasts around three-and-a-half months. Its last edition was held in Haridwar from January 14 to April 28 in 2010.

Haridwar is in the final stages of preparations to host the ‘Kumbh Mela’, which is slated to start from April 1. On the other hand, the Covid-19 cases in Uttarakhand, which lay low for a few months, are once again showing a rising trend of late. 200 new coronavirus infections were reported on Wednesday, of which the maximum were detected in Haridwar (71 cases). Dehradun, the state’s winter capital, reported 63 cases, while as many as 22 cases were reported from Nainital, according to a Covid-19 control room bulletin.

The rising number of cases forms a cause of concern for the administration since thousands of devotees take a dip in the holy river during the mela, with their number increasing manifold on the days of ‘shahi snan’. Authorities also expect heavy turnouts on the occasions of Chaitra Pratipada on April 13 and Ram Navami on April 21.

Soon after taking over as the chief minister of Uttarakhand last week, Tirath Singh Rawat had said it was not compulsory to bring a negative RT-PCR test report for devotees gathering for the Kumbh. It is a religious event that comes once in 12 years and devotees can attend it freely, he had said. However, he later ordered strict compliance with the guidelines issued by the central government in view of the surging positive cases. Rawat himself has tested Covid positive and has gone into self-isolation. A former chief minister Harish Rawat has also tested positive and has been flown into Delhi and admitted in the AIIMS for treatment.

(Manas Dasgupta)



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