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Even as a number of social and religious events continue to be postponed or cancelled in Uttar Pradesh due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the annual Magh Mela will be held on time in Prayagraj in January, the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad has said.

Mahant Narendra Giri, who is President of the apex body of all 13 recognised Hindu monastic orders, met Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow and discussed the preparations for Magh Mela.

Giri later told reporters: "The CM assured that the tradition of Magh Mela will not be broken due to the pandemic and it would be held on the banks of Sangam amid strict implementation of COVID-19 guidelines."

He said that the state will set up special coronavirus test camps at all entry points during the Mela in Prayagraj and even in each sector of the Mela campus. Every visitor to the religious fair will have to get tested, he added.

Devotees coming from different areas can also bring along their negative COVID-19 test reports to enter the Mela campus, Giri added.

Seers and saints have been advised not to invite their followers in large numbers as the throng numbers have to be limited.

The Mahant appealed to seers and their devotees to strictly follow the COVID-19 protocol while visiting the Magh Mela.

"The number of religious organisations marking their presence in the Magh Mela this year will be less due to the pandemic. Only seers, 'kalpwasis' (those who stay and meditate for a month) and devotees will be welcome. We will urge all devotees arriving on the 'Mauni Amavasya' bathing day to take dip at different ghats and not crowd a particular ghat. Kalpwasis will also be asked to come along with lesser number of people."

The state government in recent months cancelled a number of events, including the Lucknow Mahotsav, to prevent congregation of people in large numbers at one place.

The Magh Mela is an annual event that attracts lakhs of devotees from all over the country and even abroad. Various religious organisations set up their camps on the banks of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers and hold religious activities for the entire month.

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