Thousands of devotees gathered at Uttarakhand’s Haridwar on Sunday to offer prayers during the Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious congregations in the world.
Several were seen without masks, flouting COVID-19 norms put in place by the health ministry. Haridwar registered 372 fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday (April 11), ahead of the ‘Shahi Snan’ on Monday, a ritual that is part of the ongoing Maha Kumbh, held once every 12 years at each of India’s four river-bank pilgrimage sites.
Uttarakhand currently has 7,323 active coronavirus cases, 1,08,812 confirmed cases, while the death toll stands at 1,760 to date.
Massive crowds of devotees gathered at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar, with several without masks or complying with social distancing protocols. At least nine people were found COVID-19 positive during random testing at Har Ki Pauri on Sunday.
Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad president, Mahant Narendra Giri Maharaj also tested positive for coronavirus. The seer is in solitary confinement inside his ashram.
Members of 13 akhadas will visit Haridwar for ‘Shahi Snan’ on Monday. The state administration has allotted time for each of the seven “Sanyasi” akhadas, three ‘Vaishnav” akhadas, and three ‘Bairagi’ akhadas to participate in ‘Shahi Snan’ between 8.30 pm and 3 pm.
Simultaneously, taking a bath at the Har Ki Pauri Brahmakund will be proscribed from 8 am until the time all akhadas have concluded the ‘Shahi Snan’. The general public will be permitted to bathe at any other ghat during this time.