India’s heavy blast fails to prevent Hindu pilgrims from landing on the banks of the Ganges River in Haridwar for the seven-week festival.
Hindu pilgrims have landed on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India, removing COVID-19 risks for the start of Kumbh Mela (Fairgrounds Fair), a religious festival that regularly attracts millions.
India The severe outbreak of the second most coronavirus infections in the world and more than 150,000 deaths has not stopped devout Hindus from making the pilgrimage to Haridwar in Uttarakhand state.
The pandemic is a bit of a concern, but we are taking all precautions, said organizer Siddharth Chakrapani, who expected between 800,000 and one million people to attend on Thursday alone.
I’m sure Maa Ganga [Mother Ganges] will take care of their safety, he added, referring to the river that was considered sacred by believers.
According to Hindu mythology, gods and demons waged war on a sacred pitcher containing the nectar of immortality. The point fell on four different locations, which now play host alternately for large gatherings.
Kumbh Mela is recognized as part of the intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO and its last edition in Allahabad (now Prayagraj, in the state of Uttar Pradesh) in 2019 attracted about 55 million people over 48 days.
This year, starting Thursday, Haridwar is the host and several million people are expected to flock to the city over the next seven weeks.
Doing a dive in the Ganges is considered a sacred rite by Hindus, who come from all over India and beyond its borders to participate.
The holy men known as sadhus boast extraordinary dreadlocks and often cannabis smoking are a regular feature at Kumbh Mela, camping by the river and offering blessings to those who come for the holy diving.
On Wednesday, riverbanks filled with pilgrims and vendors as families laid out plastic sheets to place their belongings as they took turns shifting down the river.
Most were oblivious to the coronavirus threat.
India is not like Europe when it comes to immunity, we are better, said 50-year-old pilgrim Sanjay Sharma.
It is really sad to see people who do not gather in Kumbh in the same number as they would before just because of a sneeze or cough The greatest truth on earth is death. What is the meaning of living in fear?
But the other pilgrim Lakshmi Sharma, 37, said she was still careful.
It’s been a joyous time since Kumbh. We should just try to keep our distance and keep our hands clean as it is a pandemic, she told the AFP news agency.
This week brings several other religious festivals to India, including Gangasagar in Kolkata, where officials expect approximately 15,000 people.
Madurai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu is expected to host a carnival following bulls known as Jallikattu, where celebrants catch animal horns as they pass through crowds of people.
As life is gradually returning to normal in the second most populous country in the world, experts warn that a new wave of coronavirus could be struck.
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