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Thousands Of Hindus Take Holy dip In India

Thousands of Hindus take holy dip in India, defying COVID surge

Tens of thousands bath in the frigid waters of the Ganges river in northern India rising the infections of COVID-19

Hindus believe a bath in the frigid waters of the holy river during Makar Sankranti festival washes away sins and frees them from the cycle of death and rebirth. Coronavirus cases have risen 30-fold in the past month.

Officials had said they expected about three million people to attend the festival’s climax on Sagar Island, where the Ganges meets the Bay of Bengal.
“At the crack of dawn, there was a sea of people. Holy water from the river Ganges was sprayed from drones on pilgrims … to prevent crowding,” local official Bankim Hazra said.

“But the saints and a large number of people were bent on taking the dip … Pilgrims, most of them without masks, outnumbered the security personnel.”

In the northern Uttar Pradesh state too, Hindu devotees, led by heads of monasteries and ash-smeared ascetics, congregated at Sangam, the confluence of three rivers – the Ganges, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati – in Prayagraj city, 200km (124 miles) northeast of state capital Lucknow, to participate in the Magh Mela festival, one of the most sacred pilgrimages in Hinduism.
Millions of Hindus are expected to throng the festival for the next 47 days. Many of them will stay on the banks of the Ganges for a month leading the life of an ascetic, with the belief they will receive salvation.
“I can’t breathe with a mask,” Ram Phal Tripathi, who came with his family from a village in Uttar Pradesh, said after emerging from the river.

“Every year I come for a holy dip. How could I have missed it this year?”

The event has raised concerns that pilgrims could get infected and take the virus back to their cities and villages in other parts of the country.

Authorities in different parts of the country have sought to restrict public gatherings amid concerns over the event, which is due to be held in Mumbai later this month.

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