Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday spoke to Swami Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhara and urged that the ongoing Kumbh should be now symbolic amid a coronavirus crisis.
"I prayed that two 'shahi snan' have taken place and Kumbh (participation) should now be kept symbolic. This will boost the fight against this crisis," the prime minister tweeted in Hindi.
Responding to Modi's call, Avdheshanand urged people to not come to the Kumbh mela for bathing in large numbers due to the COVID-19 situation and to follow the rules.
Saving one's and other's lives is sacred, he added.
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After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal, Swami Avdheshanand urged people to not come to Kumbh for bathing in large numbers and follow rules.
The ongoing Kumbh, which has seen people from different parts of the country attending the auspicious event in large numbers, has drawn flak from various quarters as the number of COVID-19 cases has zoomed at a rapid pace in the past few weeks. The event has also reported the coronavirus cases in large numbers.
Between April 10 and April 14, over 1700 people contracted Covid-19 in the Haridwar Kumbh Mela area confirming fears that one of the world's largest religious gatherings may contribute further to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
The Kumbh Mela area is spread over 670 hectares covering parts of Haridwar, Tehri and Dehradun districts, including Rishikesh.
A majority of the 48.51 lakh people who took part in the last two royal baths (Shahi Snan) held on the occasion of Somwati Amavasya on April 12 and Mesh Sankranti on April 14 were seen openly violating COVID norms like wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Despite their best efforts, the police could not impose the standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the seers of akharas and the ash-smeared ascetics thronging Har Ki Pairi ghat on the two major bathing days due to severe time constraints.
The ongoing Kumbh has already been shortened this year to just one month from April 1 to 30 due to the pandemic. In normal circumstances, the event, which comes once in 12 years, is held from mid-January to April.
(With PTI inputs.)