New Delhi: Kumbh Mela, a religious pilgrimage that witnesses the world’s largest mass gathering at one place, has begun this year with lakhs of devotees taking a holy dip in the Ganga river on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. The auspicious festival that fell on March 11 this year, celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati.
The holy dip marks the beginning of the Haridwar Kumbh and reportedly saw over 30 lakh people taking baths at various stretches of the riverbank.
There are six auspicious days during the fair: Magh Purnima (February 27, 2021), Mahashivratri (March 11, 2021), Somvati Amavasya (April 12, 2021), Baisakhi (April 14, 2021), Ram Navmi (April 21, 2021), and Chaitra Purnima (April 27, 2021).
These days mostly witness the large surge of crowds congregating at Har Ki Pauri Ghat to take the holy bath.
However, this time, it’s not the same as it used to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The central and state governments have brought in several guidelines to ensure that the coronavirus safety protocols are followed.
This year, the fair will be organised for a shorter span and will take place between April 1 and 30.
The Centre has directed the Uttarakhand Government to follow the registration of the devotees and a compulsory medical certification regimen on similar lines as being practiced for the Amarnath Yatra.
All devotees desirous of attending the Kumbh Mela shall:
a. Register with the Government of Uttarakhand.
b. Obtain a compulsory medical certificate from the nearest Community Health
Devotees coming to the Kumbh Mela site without the compulsory medical certificate issued by a competent authority shall not be allowed.
Simple public health measures are also to be followed to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These measures need to be always observed by all:
1. Individuals must maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet in public places as far as feasible.
2. Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory. Mask dispensing kiosks at Government approved rates may be set up at entry points and parking lots. Provision shall be kept for the distribution of free masks for those who cannot afford.
3. Levying fines/penalties on defaulters for not wearing mask/face cover, or for not following physical distancing norms should be done by the enforcement agencies.
4. Practice frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be made wherever feasible.
5. Establishing hand washing stations in public utility areas and ensuring the availability of soap and water. Use of foot Operated taps and contactless soap dispensers is mandatory.
6. Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves the strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly.
7. Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest to State and District Helpline.
8. Spitting should be strictly prohibited. Installation and the use of the Aarogya Setu App shall be advised to all.
9. Mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test report
10. Devotees with negative RT-PCR test report (test done 72 hours prior to the date of visit) shall only be allowed to enter the Kumbh Mela site. The devotees may carry such test reports either on their mobile phones or in hard copies.
As per the health arrangements, 100 teams have been constituted for thermal screening while the teams performing the COVID-19 tests have been increased to 50 from 40 and the ambulances have also been increased to 54 from 32. A team of 100 doctors and 148 paramedical staff from Uttar Pradesh has also reached Haridwar.
Tents and toilets will be made and all the Mahamandleshwars will also be provided with the necessary facilities.
Link to register: https://dsclservices.org.in/kumbh/