WorldThousands challenge COVID-19 in massive Indian religious congregation

Thousands challenge COVID-19 in massive Indian religious congregation


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While the pandemic of coronavirus has not ceased to global novel, in the India religious festivals continue to be celebrated. This Friday, a group of drones was busy spraying thousands of pilgrims with holy Ganges water to try to contain a crowd gathered for the Hindu festival Gangasagar Mela, an event that can become a dangerous propagator of the COVID-19.

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The authorities have already admitted that they will not be able to contain the pilgrims, mostly without masks, who go to expiatory ritual baths in the river.

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Most pilgrims are willing to defy the rules“Anticovid, says a police officer. “They believe that God will save them and that bathing in the tributary (of the Ganges) will purify them from all their sins, even from the virus if they are contaminateds, ”he adds.

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Although the omicron variant It is spreading rapidly in India, last week a court in Calcutta authorized the celebration of the Gangasagar Mela on the island of Sagar at the mouth of the Ganges in the state of West (East) Bengal.

Up to three million Hindu pilgrims are expected to flock to the island this Friday.

Hindu pilgrims perform rituals after taking a holy dip at the confluence of the Ganges and the Bay of Bengal during the Gangasagar Mela. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR /)

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Since dawn, there was already an ocean of people”A local official, Bankim Hazra, declared by phone. “Sacred water from the Ganges was sprayed by drones on the pilgrims to contain the crowd”.

But sadhus (ascetics with their bodies covered in ash and their heads covered in dreadlocks, ndlr) and a great number of people prefer to stay for a bath.”, He adds.

On Friday, India registered more than 260,000 new infections and 315 deaths in 24 hours.

At the peak of the pandemic, last May, this country of 1,300 million inhabitants registered more than 400,000 new contaminations, and some 4,000 deaths a day, amid traumatizing scenes in hospitals, overflowing with dying patients.

That terrifying epidemic wave came after the Kumbh Mela festival, one of the largest religious congregations in the world, attended by some 25 million Hindus.

Like the Kumbh Mela, Gangasagar Mela attracts worshipers from all over northern India, who travel aboard crowded trains, buses and boats to reach the island.

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