A massive crowd of devotees during Ganga Aarti ahead of the Second Shahi Snan in Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar
A massive crowd of devotees during Ganga Aarti ahead of the Second Shahi Snan in Kumbh Mela, at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar

India's famous religious congregation, the 'Kumbh Mela' is in full swing at Haridwar, Uttarakhand. On Monday, devotees took a holy dip in River Ganga at Har Ki Pauri on the occasion of the second 'shahi snan' in Kumbh.

However, this is happening at a time when the nation is going through its second peak which is proving to be much worse than the first. Uttarakhand itself reported 1,333 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday taking the total number of the cases in the state to 1,08,812. The active cases in the state now stand at 7,323.

Kumbh Mela Inspector General (IG) Sanjay Gunjyal also admitted that it is difficult to ensure social distancing norms during the second 'Shahi snan'.

"We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. But due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible to issue challans today. It is very difficult to ensure social distancing at ghats," Gunjyal said.

"A stampede-like situation may arise if we would try to enforce social distancing at ghats so we are unable to enforce social distancing here," he said.

While Kumbh is going viral on Twitter due to devotees putting out tweets appreciating the festival, there are also people who are criticising the holy gathering. Several have taken to Twitter to express their concern about COVID-19 spreading further at Kumbh due to the lack of norms being followed.

The controversy doesn't end here. Many are also relating this event to the Islamic congregation 'Tablighi Jamaat' that attracted a lot of negative attention last April. The national media criticised the Jamaat at length alleging that the Jamaat's irresponsible gathering spread COVID0-19 in the nation. Cases were also filed against those who attended the congregation.

Many are pointing out that the same national media that day and night bashed the Jamaat on Television is now quiet about the enormous crowd at Kumbh.

On the other hand, others believe that this debate is being carried out solely to defame Hinduism and its festivals. A religious and political controversy is thus being played out on Twitter.

Here's what people are saying.

With inputs from ANI.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal