Maha Kumbh 2021: One of the most sacred events for Hindus, that witnesses a gathering of thousands of pilgrims every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela has been shortened this year to 30 days due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Uttarakhand government recently said while announcing the dates. The religious fair will be held from April 1 to April 30 this year.
Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Om Prakash also informed that a notice will be issued by the end of March to the authorities responsible for hosting the Mela every year. He further said that the decision to reduce the duration of the Kumbh was taken on account of the concern that with a gathering of people, Haridwar can become a hot spot for Covid-19 infections.
The Health Ministry has earlier issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that made it mandatory for pilgrims to submit a negative RT-PCR test report with test date 72 hours prior to the date of visit, identification proof and medical certificate to receive passes that permit entry to the event.
Every devotee coming to Haridwar for Kumbh Mela 2021 will have to register themselves on the web portal of Mahakumbh Mela, 2021 first. Only registered people will be permitted to enter the Mela grounds. A complete ban has been imposed this year on crowd puller events like organically singing bhajans and organizing Bhandara in the entire Mela area.
During the Kumbh Mela, only shops of essential commodities such as medicine, food, dairy, puja paraphernalia, and blankets are allowed to be opened on the day of the important bath dates to avoid unnecessary crowding and maintain social distance.
Any devotee or group of devotees will be given a maximum of 20 minutes for the holy bath. All personnel deployed in Bath Ghat will be equipped with PPE kit and will follow all safety measures.
Moreover, the district administration has demanded 70,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the immunisation of personnel posted on the Mela duty. A network of CCTV cameras has been installed to monitor the crowd and maintain social distance.
Vulnerable populations above 65 years of age, children and pregnant women or the ones with co-morbid conditions are discouraged from attending the Kumbh Mela this year.
A staggering seven million devotees attended Maha Kumbh 2010 in Haridwar and around 1.5 crore people gathered at the ghats for ‘Shahi Snan’.