The Uttar Pradesh government will allow holding the annual Kanwar Yatra in the state from July 25, PTI reported on Wednesday, citing a senior official.
“Chief Minister Adityanath has asked to coordinate with neighbouring [states] Bihar and Uttarakhand and ensure Covid-19 guidelines are followed during the yatra,” Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Navneet Sehgal told the news agency.
Sehgal said that a meeting of senior officials will be held to discuss the matter and detailed guidelines regarding the annual pilgrimage will be issued soon
The Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage by the devotees of Hindu deity Shiva. They collect water, usually from River Ganga, and offer it at Shiva temples in their respective states. These devotees, called Kanwariyas, come from far-off places, covering hundreds of kilometres on foot.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision is despite the fact that other such pilgrimage visits have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Uttarakhand has cancelled Kanwar Yatra in the state citing the prevailing coronavirus situation. The government has also appealed to neighbouring states to ask devotees not to visit Haridwar for collecting water from Ganga.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with the Odisha government’s decision to limit the Rath Yatra this year to the Jagannath temple in Puri. The Rath Yatra will will begin on July 12, but will take place without devotees.
Uttarakhand’s decision to cancel the Kanwar Yatra came after it faced criticism for allowing Kumbh Mela this year. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had gathered in Haridwar for a ritual bath in the Ganga between April 1 and April 30, amid the second wave of the pandemic, when there was a massive surge in coronavirus cases. The violation of Covid-19 protocols at the gathering had attracted attention from across the world. However, state authorities, including the then chief minister, had tried to downplay the risks.
Last year, the Uttar Pradesh government had not allowed the Kanwar Yatra to be held in view of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh registered 93 new coronavirus cases, its lowest single-day infection count since March 1, reported The Times of India. With this, the case tally climbed to 17,06,832 since the pandemic broke out in the country in January last year. Ten new deaths pushed the toll to 22,656.