Stampede deaths fail to deter Kumbh pilgrims

Published on Aug 29, 2003 01:20 PM IST

Tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims poured into the city of Nashik, as relatives cremated the victims of the Kumbh stampede that killed 39 devotees.

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HT Image
PTI | ByReuters, Nashik

Tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims poured into the city of Nashik on Thursday, as relatives cremated the victims of a stampede that killed at least 39 devotees.

As smoke from funeral pyres drifted into the sky, Hindus made their way to the banks of the Godavari river as part of the Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher festival, undeterred by Wednesday's tragedy.

"The faith of the pilgrims is incredibly strong, that is why they are still coming. It gives them the strength to face any tragedy," said Nasik mayor Dashrath Patil.

Wailing relatives sat beside bodies covered with saffron sheets before they were cremated. Many other bodies were being taken back to their home villages across the country.

Patil said almost 70 of the 150 injured remained in hospital.

The Kumbh Mela is one of Hinduism's holiest festivals, drawing millions of worshippers, and Wednesday was one of the most auspicious days of the celebrations.

Hindus believe a dip in the Godavari, which flows through Nashik and the neighbouring temple town of Trimbakeshwar, cleanses the sins of this and past lives.

The cause of the stampede, the worst since 50 people died in 1986 when the festival was held in Haridwar, remains unclear.

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