Uttarakhand: Despite COVID-19 complications, Kumbh Mela, the largest religious congregation across the globe, commenced in Haridwar on Makar Sankranti divas. According to the Information Department of Uttarakhand, seven lakh devotees took a dip in river Ganga in the initial days. The festival would last till April this year.
Though Covid-19 death toll rose to 1,611 in the state on Sunday with five more fatalities and 112 new cases pushed the infection tally to 94,803, Uttarakhand's festive preparations are in full swing. On the first day, 974 people were fined for violating Covid protocol.
Though usually held every 12 years at four different destinations include Prayagraj (Ganges-Yamuna-Saraswathi rivers confluence), Haridwar (Ganges), Nashik (Godavari) and Ujjain (Shipra), this time it is happening in the 11th year due to 'star and planetary movements'.
While speaking with Madhyamam, Vivek Rai, one of the usual attendees of Kumbh Mela from Varanasi, said, "This year there are regulations because of COVID. Apart from that, Haridwar is in celebration mood. The Sadhu akhara would start a rally in the whole city. In Kumbh Mela, there are temporary hospitals, tents, toilets for the comfort of devotees. It's a large gathering place where international and Indian people come and bathe to wash away their sins. The tourism information booth and tourism police will guide the tourists properly."
The Union government allocated 70-80 per cent of the Kumbh Mela budget this year. In Uttarakhand, the state government improved highways, roads, Ganga ghats, bridges, and flyovers. LPG gas cylinders were replaced by Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) project and 1000s of households connected with pipes. As per reports, three major bridges are being built on the Ganga river and canal. Haridwar will now be the first city in Uttarakhand to be free of hanging electric wires and poles.