The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday decided to cancel the annual Kanwar Yatra scheduled this year in view of the raging the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease and a possible third wave of the pandemic. This is second time in a row that the pilgrimage was cancelled. Earlier, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had said the Kanwar Yatra is not a one-state affair and his government will take the decision after holding talks with other states, including Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
While speaking about the cultural significance of the yatra, the newly appointed chief minister said his government’s priority remains saving lives amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Kanwar is part of the Sanatan culture but saving lives is paramount. Government’s focus is to ensure that COVID does not spread,” Dhami said.
Hours ago, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) wrote to Dhami urging him to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the pandemic. In the letter, IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr Ajay Khanna expressed concerns about the crowds that may gather for the annual pilgrimage and urged Dhami not to allow devotees from outside to enter the state for the Yatra.
Every year, during the Hindu calendar month of ‘Saavan’ (July and August), thousands of ‘Kanwariyas’ (devotees of Lord Shiva) from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar to offer at Shiva temples in their areas as part of the yatra.
Dhami had earlier said the yatra is a matter of shraddha (reverence) and aastha (faith), and God would not like anyone to die.
Earlier in March, another religious pilgrimage, the Kumbh Mela, was curtailed in light of rising COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has urged that only a minimum number of people should participate in the annual yatra this year and directed officials to ensure strict implementation of the COVID-19 protocol, an official spokesman said here on Tuesday.
The UP government, which has allowed the yatra from July 25 despite concerns raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such events, said a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims, if required.
News Source: HindustanTimes