Kanwar Yatra – An Open Invitation To The Third Wave?

Uttarakhand is also known as the ‘Devbhoomi’ or the land of God. Numerous religious processions, gatherings, and rituals are organized every year. One such gathering was the Kumbh Mela held in Haridwar in April; amidst the high positivity rate going on in the country at that time. The result was obvious.

Scores of devotees and naga babas with their forehead smeared with ashes took the ‘snan’ at Har Ki Pauri, providing a massive rise in the caseload.

Another such gathering, currently in news these days is the Kanwar Yatra. Let us first look at what the yatra is about.

The Kanwar Yatra – It is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shiva, known as Kanvarias(कावड़िया) or “Bhole” (भोले), to Hindu pilgrimage places of Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch holy waters of Ganges River. Millions of participants gather sacred water from the Ganga and carry it across hundreds of miles to dispense as offerings in their local Shiva shrines, or specific temples such as Pura Mahadeva and Augharnath temple in Meerut, and Kashi Vishwanath, Baidyanath, and Deoghar in Jharkhand.

The yatra was suspended last year due to the pandemic. Even this year, the Tirath Singh Rawat ( who held office for over four months) had suspended the yatra, keeping in mind the disastrous effects of it.  

But UP CM Yogi Adityanath had been in talks with the newly appointed CM of Uttarakhand, Pushkar Singh Dhami, and requested the latter that kanwarias from the state be allowed to travel to the state to collect the holy water.

Pushkar Singh Dhami has taken a rather pragmatic approach to the issue and announced that Uttarakhand is only the host and that a good amount(crores) of people from states such as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar will be a part of the gathering and has put the decision on a halt to constitute a meeting and then reach a decision which will favor the masses.

What experts have to say on the issue – 

The Kumbh Mela had a devastating effect on the already burdened caseload. Keeping in purview the disastrous effect it had on the Covid cases and also the general footfall of the Kanwar Yatra, which is about two to four crore; experts warn that allowing the Yatra to take place will be hazardous to the extreme and will serve as a ‘catalyst’ for the third wave. It’s just like giving an open invitation to the third wave.

Another point to be remembered is that people(patients as well as covid warriors), economy, health facilities, and every aspect playing a pivotal role in the Covid management is at a recuperating stage from the deadly couple of months that just passed. So, allowing such an enormous number of people to gather, travel and carry out rituals would not be an appreciable idea.

Conclusion –   India has already seen huge amounts of devastation. People have lost close kin, in many cases the sole breadwinners of the family. A good percentage of citizens haven’t yet taken the first dose of vaccine. In this situation, if the Kanwar Yatra is allowed to be held, it would be nothing but a knife stabbed in our abdomen, by ourselves, in complete consciousness. 

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