PHOTO / WORLD
Indian PM urges public to keep Kumbh congregation symbolic amid surging COVID-19 cases
Published: Apr 18, 2021 02:15 PM
People taking holy dip at river Ganga during Kumbh festival in Haridwar, India on April 14, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

People taking holy dip at river Ganga during Kumbh festival in Haridwar, India on April 14, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
People taking holy dip at river Ganga during Kumbh festival in Haridwar, India on April 14, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

People taking holy dip at river Ganga during Kumbh festival in Haridwar, India on April 14, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged people to keep the ongoing Kumbh Mela congregation in the northern state of Uttarakhand symbolic, in the wake of the surging COVID-19 cases in the country.

Modi said on social media that he got an update on the health of the Niranjan Akhada saints who had tested positive following the Kumbh Mela congregation being held in Haridwar.

Modi had a phone conversation with Avdheshanand Giri and asked about the health of all the saints, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

"The prime minister requested to keep Kumbh symbolic from now on as two shahi snans (royal baths) have already taken place. This will strengthen the fight against the pandemic," said the statement.

In a response, Avdheshanand Giri appealed to the people to abide by COVID-19 guidelines amid the dire situation and asked the devotees not to come for the bath in large numbers, the statement added.

The Kumbh Mela started on April 1 and was originally scheduled to last until April 30. Thousands of Hindu devotees have gathered in Uttarakhand's Haridwar town to take bath in the Ganges river as part of a ritual. Devotees continued to throng the river banks as India was witnessing a more severe second wave of COVID-19.

Modi's appeal comes in the wake of nearly 2,000 devotees testing COVID-19 positive at Kumbh in around a week's time. Reports said many saints have tested positive for the COVID-19 at the congregation.

A majority of devotees who undertook the bath were seen flouting the COVID-19 norms.

Reports said close to 3 million Hindu devotees turned up on Monday to take a dip in the Ganges and participate in the congregation.

Experts feared the congregation would trigger an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases and the festival could turn into a super spreader event amid a countrywide surge in infections.

The federal health ministry on Saturday morning said 234,692 new COVID-19 cases, yet another highest single-day spike, and 1,341 more deaths were registered in the past 24 hours across the country.
blog comments powered by Disqus