Kanwar yatra has been scrapped this year in view of Covid pandemic
LUCKNOW: The traditional kanwar yatra scheduled from July 6 won’t be held this year with governments of three states — Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Uttarakhand — deciding to scrap the annual pilgrimage of Shiva devotees due to the covid-19 pandemic. This followed a meeting through video-conference between the three chief ministers, Yogi Adityanath, Manohar Lal Khattar and Trivendra Singh Rawat, on Saturday evening.
Later, UP CM Yogi Adityanath directed senior police officials and divisional commissioners to inform religious leaders, kanwar associations and peace committees about the decision.
“The CM said religious leaders and kanwar associations should in turn appeal to devotees not to take out the yatra this year in light of the pandemic. Also, Covid-19 protocols have to be strictly followed during rituals at temples. Not more than five persons will be allowed inside temples and assembly of more than five will not be allowed anywhere. Social distancing and masks will be compulsory,” said a government spokesperson.
The kanwar yatra takes place during the Hindu month of Shrawan or Sawan, spread over July and August. Crores of Shiva devotees travel to Haridwar, Gaumukh and Garhmukhteshwar to take a dip in Ganga and fill pots with Ganga Jal, which is carried back home or to temples and poured on Shivlings.
Over years, the number of kanwars, now identifiable by their saffron attire, have grown exponentially. In 2019, over 4 crore devotees visited Haridwar alone during the month of Shrawan. In view of their burgeoning numbers, states have begun making elaborate arrangements to facilitate the yatra by diverting traffic to allow safe passage to pilgrims, putting up tents for their stay and making arrangements for food. Their security is an additional concern, forcing states to deploy police and even drones.
The chief minister also issued directions not to allow crowds to gather during the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, which is likely to be celebrated on August 1. He said, religious leaders should issue an appeal for not allowing congregation of more than five people. Till the pandemic ebbs, people of all religions should be sensitised about social distancing and Covid-19 protocols.