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India: Thousands of Hindus crowd Ganges for Kumbh Mela festival despite pandemic03:44

India: Thousands of Hindus crowd Ganges for Kumbh Mela festival despite pandemic

India, Haridwar
January 15, 2021 at 20:06 GMT +00:00 · Published

Thousands of Hindu worshippers headed to the banks of the Ganges River as they gathered for the first day of the Kumbh Mela festival, typically one of the world's largest religious gatherings, in Haridwar on Thursday, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Worshippers could be seen performing different rituals, many of which entailed dipping in the river which they hold to be sacred, without taking safety precautions like social distancing or wearing masks.

"The festival is important. It has its own significance. The pandemic is there. But you can see that the number of people is really less due to the pandemic," said a pilgrim, Abhijeet Pandey.

"I agree that social distance and other precautions are not being maintained. But as an Indian and as a Hindu, the religion and the location is really important. So people are willing to take that risk and have a belief in God and that everything will be fine," Pandey explained.

Another pilgrim also seemed unconcerned about the pandemic, saying "there is a lot of fear because of the coronavirus. So I think this is a beautiful way to overcome the fear, the anxiety, the pressure, and the problems that people are facing."

District officials have urged people to come only after having tested negative for coronavirus, to wear masks at all times, and to maintain social distancing. Medical staff also could be seen taking visitors' temperatures and performing PCR tests at the entrance.

This year, Kumbh Mela will be held from January 14 and continue until April 27, with millions of pilgrims still expected to attend.

India has the second largest number of coronavirus cases in the world, with some 10.5 million recorded as of Friday according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, while over 151,000 deaths with the virus have also been registered.

India: Thousands of Hindus crowd Ganges for Kumbh Mela festival despite pandemic03:44
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Thousands of Hindu worshippers headed to the banks of the Ganges River as they gathered for the first day of the Kumbh Mela festival, typically one of the world's largest religious gatherings, in Haridwar on Thursday, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Worshippers could be seen performing different rituals, many of which entailed dipping in the river which they hold to be sacred, without taking safety precautions like social distancing or wearing masks.

"The festival is important. It has its own significance. The pandemic is there. But you can see that the number of people is really less due to the pandemic," said a pilgrim, Abhijeet Pandey.

"I agree that social distance and other precautions are not being maintained. But as an Indian and as a Hindu, the religion and the location is really important. So people are willing to take that risk and have a belief in God and that everything will be fine," Pandey explained.

Another pilgrim also seemed unconcerned about the pandemic, saying "there is a lot of fear because of the coronavirus. So I think this is a beautiful way to overcome the fear, the anxiety, the pressure, and the problems that people are facing."

District officials have urged people to come only after having tested negative for coronavirus, to wear masks at all times, and to maintain social distancing. Medical staff also could be seen taking visitors' temperatures and performing PCR tests at the entrance.

This year, Kumbh Mela will be held from January 14 and continue until April 27, with millions of pilgrims still expected to attend.

India has the second largest number of coronavirus cases in the world, with some 10.5 million recorded as of Friday according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, while over 151,000 deaths with the virus have also been registered.