After 12 years, the ‘Maha Kumbh Mela’ is organized in the holy city of Haridwar. People with religious beliefs as well as tourists from all over the world visit Haridwar for this huge event. The Kumbh Mela is scheduled to start from 12th march of 2021 while India is still dealing with the pandemic crisis.
Kumbh Mela is a religious festival that is celebrated four times in 12 years with the 4th event being the ‘Maha Kumbh Mela’. The site for this event changes every year among the four pilgrimages situation over four sacred rivers. These sites are Haridwar on the river Ganges, Nashik on river Godavari, Prayagraj on the meeting of two rivers of Ganges and Jamuna, and Ujjain on the river Shipra.
Also, ‘The Great Kumbh Mela’ is a festival that is held every 144 years, The last Great Kumbh Mela was celebrated in Prayagraj in the year 2001 with an attendance of 60 million people.
The state government of Uttarkhand has already relaxed the tourism restrictions and more restrictions for the religious events will be relaxed this month. This would allow thousands of people to gather in the city of Haridwar. The event will be very hard to manage since the crowd is in thousands and usually very unorganized. This will increase the risk of COVID spread on a large scale.
The district administration is still in the process of predicting the size of the event to be organized. In April of 2010, the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar had an attendance of 15 million people. The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand pointed towards limiting the number of people attending the event by limiting the total number of ‘Entry Passes’ to the people. Also, the measures for social distancing are also being planned for this event.
It is too early to predict the total number of people attending the event. However, according to administrative officials, people might not choose to attend the event to avoid the risk of catching an infection. Also, according to the average number of pilgrims who visited the important temples this year, there were just a few hundred per day compared to last year’s number of 900,000 pilgrims in one single day. According to the officials, the same can be expected next year for the ‘Kumbh Mela’.
The following short documentary from ’60 minutes Australia’ shows the importance and the size of the Kumbh Mela event in Haridwar.