Calcutta HC nod for Ganga Sagar mela, asks state to distribute e-snan kits
- Ganga Sagar mela held on the Sagar Island in mid-January every year is the second largest congregation of pilgrims in India after the Kumbh Mela.
The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the Ganga Sagar mela while directing the West Bengal government to distribute e-snan kits among pilgrims and discourage them from taking the holy dip over the next two days.
With Makar Sankranti due to be celebrated on January 14, millions of pilgrims are expected to take the holy dip between 6:02 am on January 14 and till 6:02 am on January 15 at the confluence of River Ganges and the Bay of Bengal in the southern tip of West Bengal.
“The court has given the nod to hold the mela after the state government submitted that this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic the turnout is very low, the chances of infection in moving and saline water is low and a series of measures have been taken to maintain Covid-19 safety protocols at the mela ground,” said Sabyasachi Chatterjee, the advocate who filed the PIL for petitioner Ajay Kumar De.
Ganga Sagar mela held on the Sagar Island in mid-January every year is the second largest congregation of pilgrims in India after the Kumbh Mela. In 2020, around five million pilgrims from across India took the holy dip at the confluence of River Ganges and Bay of Bengal to celebrate Makar Sankranti, the first major Hindu festival in the Gregorian calendar.
The Mamata Banerjee administration has made elaborate arrangements for the mela. For the first time, provisions have been kept so that pilgrims can also take the holy dip sitting in their home (e-snan) and watching the mela, live on the website. Pilgrims can book online a tirtha samagri pack comprising Ganga Jal in a container, prasad and the holy tika.
“The court has directed the state government to freely distribute the e-snan kits to pilgrims who opt for it on the mela ground. People can also opt for the e-snan kit sitting in their homes. In that case people have to pay only the delivery charge,” said Chatterjee.
Officials said that till Wednesday 100,560 e-snan kits have been delivered to devotees and only 3432 pilgrims are likely to take the holy dip. At least 35 counters have been set up at Sagar Island and Kolkata from where devotees can take the e-snan kit.
Till Wednesday afternoon around 780,000 pilgrims had arrived at the mela ground. Last year around 1.5 million had reached by this time.
“At least 5.3 lakh pilgrims have been medically screened at 13 entry points and around 23,000 Rapid Antigen Tests have been done. Announcements were being made in eight languages to make the people aware about the safety norms such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance,” said Arup Biswa, state minister, who along with a few other ministers and MLAs have reached the mela ground.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- The SII also plans to export Covishield doses to Brazil in the coming days.
- The vaccination drive has started in every district of the Kashmir valley.
- Odisha has received 4.08 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 20,000 doses of Covaxin vaccine in the first lot