People asked to defer funeral rites amid Covid-19 lockdown in Haridwar
People coming to Haridwar from across India funeral rituals of their loved ones are being asked to defer the rites amid a Covid-19 lockdown in Uttarakhand and unavailability of priests in the sacred city.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete 21-day lockdown on Tuesday evening across the country as the number of Covid-19 cases went beyond 530.
Before India’s complete lockdown, 32 states and Union territories had already announced stringent restrictions till March 31 to deal with the pandemic.
Amid the state government orders, local priests or pandas had urged people to come later and when it is safe to conduct the rituals properly.
Shri Ganga Sabha, the top body of priests, and the local administration also asked people to refrain from coming to Haridwar and to defer the rituals.
“It’s a tough and testing time for the whole world so we should be more patient as well as adhere to the preventive measures that have been suggested by medical experts,” said Ganga Sabha president Pradeep Jha said.
Jha said the ashes can be immersed later and suggested that people can keep the ashes in a safe and secluded place or in a temple, ashram premise or as per the suggestion of their respective family priest.
“Later, after the waiver of the restrictions imposed by respective states and central government post-March 31 one can come to Haridwar for ritual ash immersion. Our teerth purohits will duly perform the rituals for peace and salvation to the deceased souls,” Jha added.
With a lockdown in the state, there has been a sharp dip in the arrival of people for the funeral rituals at the Ganga. Many have even immersed the ashes without rituals.
Barely a dozen-odd people have come to the sanctum sanctorum of Brahmkund for rituals in the past two days, with Ganga Sabha, the managing body of Har-Ki-Pauri, urging people to defer the rituals till March 31.
On Monday, due to the restrictions and sealing of border with neighbouring states, only a few who had arrived earlier in the city for ashes immersion were seen at Ganga ghats.
But they too had to perform the rituals between 7am to 10am as the state government has allowed people’s movement during this period only with Section 144 imposed.
The unavailability of priests is also emerging as the major issue as they have decided to refrain from any mass rituals on the ghats of the Ganga barring the morning and evening Ganga aartis at Brahmkund, which is observed daily.
A police officer had a heated argument with a man who had come for funeral rites of his father at the Khadkhadi cremation Ganga ghat.
Haridwar city magistrate Jagdeesh Lal said that as Section 144 had been imposed in the city, not more than five persons were allowed at one place and people should keep in mind that movement during current time may prove detrimental for the whole society.
Religious and akhada related matter expert Mahesh Parikh pointed that immersion of ashes is an important ritual, which needs to be performed only under the guidance of teerth purohits.
“So under present circumstances, when there is a prohibition on movement and gathering, it is better that ashes are kept safely somewhere and later brought for immersion after the current situation normalises,” he said.