Less crowd, but no Covid norms on last shahi snan
Haridwar: The last of the shahi snans (holy dips) of the Mahakumbh was a largely symbolic affair, with only a few tens of thousands of seers and pilgrims participating in the event on account of Covid-19, much lower than the millions that did in the previous shahi snans, although those that did still ignored protocols such as wearing a mask or social distancing.
Seers from all the 13 Akhadas (sects) participated in the shahi snan with a major focus on the three Bairagi Akhadas . It was also Lord Hanuman’s birth anniversary on Tuesday -- Hanuman is the deity of the Bairagi Akhadas -- and there was quite a buzz in the Baiaragi camp and Hanuman temples.
Prime Minister Modi made a plea on April 17, asking the Akhadas to observe the Kumbh (April 1 to 30) ans the last of the shahi snans in spirit only. His plea came amidst the surging second wave of the pandemic , and after the complete breach of all Covid-19 safety protocols in the previous shahi snans. The union government has come under criticism for allowing the mass event to go ahead during the pandemic, and the state government , for not following Covid safety protocols. Infections have claimed the lives of two chief seers during the Kumbh, and many others have been infected. Pilgrims have also carried back infections from the event to other parts of India.
On Tuesday, Niranjani and Anand Akhada seers were the first to head towards the sanctum sanctorum of Brahamkund,Har-Ki-Pauri followed by Juna , Agni and Aahwan Akhada in pre scheduled order set by Kumbh Mela administration in consultation with the Akhada Parishad, the apex body of seers.
Maha Nirvani Akhada and Atal Akhada seers were followed by three Bairagi Akhadas, Nirvani, Digambar and Nirmohi.
Pilgrims were allowed to take a dip in the Ganga at Har-Ki-Pauri prior to the arrival of the seers at 9 am.
Kumbh Mela officer Deepak Rawat, Kumbh Mela Force Inspector general Sanjay Gunjiyal, SSP Mahakumbh Janmejaya Khanduri and ADM Mela Harbeer Singh welcomed the seers at Har-Ki-Pauri and urged them to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“ Kumbh Mela Force personnel were themselves in protective gear and also distributed free face masks and sanitizers at Ganga ghats and Akhadas’ processison route,” said Kumbh Mela officer Deepak Rawat.