‘Shahi Snan’ is a ritual part of the ongoing Maha Kumbh, which is held once every 12 years at each of India’s four river-bank pilgrimage sites.
Devotees at Har Ki Pauri in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar on Sunday. Haridwar in Uttarakhand reported 372 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Sunday less than 24 hours before the second ‘Shahi Snan’ in the holy city.
Uttarakhand now has 7,323 active cases of Covid-19. The state has reported a total of 1,08,812 confirmed cases while the infection has claimed 1,760 lives in Uttarakhand to date.
On Sunday, massive crowds were seen at the Har Ki Pauri in Haridwar which is the site of the ‘Shahi Snan’. Most people seen at Har Ki Pauri were neither wearing masks nor adhering to social distancing protocols.
During random testing at Har Ki Pauri on Sunday, at least nine individuals were found positive for Covid-19.
Mahant Narendra Giri Maharaj, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, also tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday. The seer has isolated himself inside his ashram.
Members of 13 akhadas will participate in the ‘Shahi Snan’ in Haridwar. The administration has allocated time for each of the seven ‘Sanyasi’ akhadas, three ‘Bairagi’ akhadas and three ‘Vaishnav’ akhadas to take part in ‘Shahi Snan’ between 8.30 am and 3 pm on Monday.
At the same time, taking a bath at the Har Ki Pauri Brahmakund will be prohibited from 8 am until the time all akhadas have completed the ‘Shahi Snan’.
The public will be allowed to bathe at any other ghat during this time.
The state of Uttarakhand reported a total of 1,333 new cases of infection on Sunday along with eight more virus-related deaths.
Dehradun accounted for 582 of these cases, followed by Haridwar with 372, Nainital with 122, Udham Singh Nagar with 104, Pauri Garhwal with 49 and Tehri with 44.
The central government had earlier this month instructed the Uttarakhand government to enforce stringent measures to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour in Haridwar during the ongoing Maha Kumbh.
Responding to a question on whether the Maha Kumbh could become a super-spreader event, Niti Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul had told the media, “We hope that the SOP issued for Kumbh Mela is being followed.”