India: 150 million pilgrims gather for Kumbh Mela. And this is in the midst of a covid epidemic.

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source: voanews.com

India's Ministry of Health has warned that the massive gathering of participants in the Hindu festival could cause a sharp rise in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. The organizers of the festival in Haridwar expect more than 150 million visitors this year.

Kumbh Mela, or the jug festival, is the most significant Hindu holiday associated with the rite of mass pilgrimage to shrines and bathing in the river. Hindus believe that bathing on the Kumbh Mela will cleanse them of their sins and deliver them from the cycle of life and death. It is often written that this festival takes place once every 12 years, and this can be misleading for an inexperienced person - for example, many remember the grandiose Kumbh Mela festival in Prayagraj (Allahabad) in 2013, where more than 120 million pilgrims arrived, and since then only eight years old.

The fact is that this holiday has many varieties, and it is celebrated in different years in different places - the four holy cities of Prayagraj (Allahabad), Haridwar, Nasik, and Ujjain. In addition, similar, albeit smaller, community pilgrimages and bathing festivals exist in other parts of India. That is the festival of the jug in India takes place almost every year and gathers millions of people. 

This year the place of celebration fell on Haridwar. Festival organizers expect about 150 million people to come to the city. In a letter to the government of Uttarakhand state, where this sacred city for Hindus is located, India's Ministry of Health reminded local authorities that the number of cases of covid is already on the rise. Daily coronavirus testing of 55,000 people in Haridwar is a drop in the ocean. Said the ministry of health. At present, more than 12 states in India have seen massive growth in the Covid 19 cases, and pilgrims who are expecting to come from these states to go to Haridwar at the Kumbh Mela.

The government of Uttarakhand is committed to abiding by the old rules established by the federal government. It obliged pilgrims to wear masks, promises to distribute them to everyone free of charge, and also to continue disinfecting public places. More than 43 thousand new cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in India on the last day. About 60% are in the wealthiest state of Maharashtra. 

According to the country's health ministry, the number of daily deaths from coronavirus infection has increased by 197 - the highest in more than two months. India ranks third in the world in the number of people infected with coronavirus and fourth in deaths. In total, 159,755 people have become victims of the coronavirus in India. 

The peak of new cases of COVID-19 infection in India was almost 100 thousand per day in September 2020. Until the end of last month, the number has been steadily declining. Five states include Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka, - immediately consider for almost 78% of new viruses. Only in Maharashtra, where India's financial capital, Mumbai, is located, more than 27 thousand cases of the disease and 92 deaths have been recorded.