Prime Minister Narendra Modi has appealed to the devotees that the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar “should now only be symbolic amid Covid-19 crisis” and added that it will help India in its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. The appeal came on a day when India recorded over two lakh for a third consecutive day.
PM Modi said in a tweet in Hindi, “I have spoken to Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha president Swami Avdheshanand Giri over the phone. Enquired about the health of the seers. All the seers are providing support to the administration for smoothly conducting the affair and I thanked them for it.”
In another tweet, Modi appealed to the devotees to keep Kumbh Mela symbolic due to the coronavirus crisis. This will give strength to India's fight against the virus.
The PM’s tweets come days after the Akhadas decided to pull out of the Kumbh Mela citing the Covid-19 situation on Wednesday. Several seers have tested Covid-19 positive and two chief seers have succumbed to the virus. A few head seers were unhappy with the Akhada's decision to put out of the Mela. Officials said that no talks have taken place and the Mela will continue as per schedule.
According to reports, Swami Avdheshanand has appealed to devotees to not come to the Kumbh Mela in large number for bathing and following Covid appropriate behaviour. “We honour the call of the honourable Prime Minister! Protecting life is a great virtue. We urge the public not to come for a bath in large numbers and observe the rules, given the circumstance,” Swami said in a tweet.
The significance of PM Modi’s appeal comes at a time when nearly 2,000 devotees testing Covid-19 positive at Kumbh Mela in a week. Most of these devotees took part in the shahi snan or ‘royal bath’. So far two rounds of the royal bath have taken place and many were seen floating Covid-19 norms. The Centre, state government and the officials attached to Mela are receiving flak for proceeding with the event. Many slammed the central government for showing double standards with regards to the Tablighi Jamaat a year ago.
The Kumbh Mela is taking place when India is in a severe crisis as Covid-19 is once again peaking. On Saturday, India reported 2,34,692 fresh COVID-19 cases, which is the biggest daily spike so far.