Photo from Kanwar Yatra 2019
Photo from Kanwar Yatra 2019

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, several states are now weighing the possibility of holding Kanwar Yatras from July 25. While Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday paved the way for the upcoming event, neighbouring Uttarakhand remains somewhat reticent. Other states are yet to weigh in.

"Kanwar Yatra includes not just Uttarakhand but also Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. Talks will be held with these states to reach a final decision," newly appointed Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami explained recently.

Kanwar Yatra, which begins in late July with the onset of Shrawan and goes on till early August covering a period of nearly a fortnight, sees a huge gathering of Shiva devotees on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to collect its holy waters for "Jalabhishek" in Shiva temples.

Even as critics contend that permitting the yatra amid the pandemic poses a massive risk, Adityanath recently affirmed that it would go ahead as long as strict adherence to COVID-19 precautions was ensured. "Complete adherence to the COVID-19 protocol should be ensured. There should not be any hesitation regarding the safe and successful operation of Kanwar Yatras," an official release quoted him as saying.

In related news, the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday extended the stay on the Char Dham Yatra till July 28. the state government, in the meantime, has filed the Special Leave Petition at the Supreme Court against the HC stay. On June 25, the State Cabinet had decided to partially open the Char Dham yatra for locals in limited numbers from July 1.

(With inputs from agencies)

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