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Kumbh duration curtailed to 1 month for first time; pilgrims must show 'negative' COVID test report

Kumbh duration curtailed to 1 month for first time; pilgrims must show 'negative' COVID test report

Kumbh duration curtailed to 1 month for first time; pilgrims must show 'negative' COVID test report
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By PTI Mar 25, 2021 4:12:32 PM IST (Updated)

Held once in 12 years, the congregation usually lasts around three-and-a-half months. Its last edition was held in Haridwar from January 14 to April 28 in 2010.

The duration of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar has been curtailed to just one month for the first time in its history in view of a recent surge in COVID-19 cases and it has been made mandatory for pilgrims to have a ”negative” RT-PCR test report to attend the mega congregation.

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According to a notification, the congregation on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar in Uttarakhand will take place from April 1 to 30, with three ”shahi snan” (major bathing) dates on April 12, 14 and 27.
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.
Held once in 12 years, the congregation usually lasts around three-and-a-half months. Its last edition was held in Haridwar from January 14 to April 28 in 2010.
According to the notification issued on Wednesday, the Kumbh Kshetra (area) covers Neergarh, Tapovan, Bitthal Ashram Marg to Muni-Ki-Reti Road and Rishi-Haridwar bypass in the north, and Narendra Nagar-Rishikesh bypass, the forest checkpost on Rishikesh-Dehradun Road, Rishikesh-Haridwar bypass, Mansa Devi, Billkeshwar Mandir, Tibri Mohand, BHEL residential buildings, Roorkee-Bahadarabadroad and up to 13 km on Haridwar-Delhi road in the west. In the south, the congregation area will extend from Bahadarabad-Haridwarbypass to Siddha Sot Setu and from Siddha Sot Setu to Neelkanth Mahadev temple in the east.
Naga Sadhus or Naked Hindu holy men take dips at Sangam, the confluence of three sacred rivers the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati, on Mauni Amavsya or the new moon day, the most auspicious day during the Kumbh Mela or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. The Kumbh Mela is a series of ritual baths by Hindu sadhus, or holy men, and other pilgrims at Sangam that dates back to at least medieval times. Pilgrims bathe in the river believing it cleanses them of their sins and ends their process of reincarnation. The event, which UNESCO added to its list of intangible human heritage in 2017, is the largest congregation of pilgrims on earth. Some 150 million people are expected to attend this year's Kumbh, which runs through early March. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
A ”negative” RT-PCR test report, not older than 72 hours before arrival, has been made mandatory for devotees by the Uttarakhand High Court. Devotees who have taken the COVID-19 vaccination will have to upload their certificate in an official portal and follow the guidelines. After the Centre called for stringent measures to control the spread of COVID-19 during Kumbh, the Uttarakhand government had asked people to strictly follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour during the congregation in view of the fresh surge in infections in various parts of the country.
In the light of guidelines issued by both the central and state governments in the past for surveillance, containment and caution, Chief Secretary Om Prakash on Monday asked the district administrations, various state and central government organisations and other stakeholders to take all necessary measures to ensure wearing of face mask, maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing by people. These measures are also included in the national directives for COVID-19 management which have to be strictly followed throughout the state, he said.
Naked ash-smeared Naga Sadhus or Hindu holy men arrive for a dip at Sangam, the confluence of three sacred rivers the Yamuna, the Ganges and the mythical Saraswati, on Mauni Amavsya or the new moon day, the most auspicious day during the Kumbh Mela or the Pitcher Festival, in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh state, India, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. The Kumbh Mela is a series of ritual baths by Hindu sadhus, or holy men, and other pilgrims at Sangam that dates back to at least medieval times. Pilgrims bathe in the river believing it cleanses them of their sins and ends their process of reincarnation. The event, which UNESCO added to its list of intangible human heritage in 2017, is the largest congregation of pilgrims on earth. Some 150 million people are expected to attend this year's Kumbh, which runs through early March. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
 
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had recently written to the UttarakhandChief Secretary underlining the need for taking strict measures to check the spread of the pandemic, especially during the congregation.
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