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As Covid stalks Kumbh, Niranjani Akhara withdraws from next Shahi Snan, asks its seers to leave

Niranjani Akhara president Ravindra Puri said only a dozen saints will take the holy dip in the Ganga on the next Shahi Snan and no procession will be taken out as it draws followers and devotees in huge numbers.

By: Express News Service | Dehradun |
Updated: April 16, 2021 5:25:11 pm
Devotees gather to offer prayers during the Kumbh Mela 2021, at Har ki Pauri Ghat in Haridwar. (PTI Photo)

With the number of Covid-19 cases in the Kumbh Mela area of Uttarakhand seeing a steady rise, Niranjani Akhara, a prominent body of seers, said that it will not take part in the next Shahi Snan on April 27 and has asked its saints and followers to leave the campus.

Niranjani Akhara president Ravindra Puri told The Indian Express that only a dozen saints will take the holy dip in the Ganga on the next Shahi Snan and no procession will be taken out as it draws followers and devotees in huge numbers. He added that following the social distancing norm becomes impossible during the Shahi Snan.

“I have asked all the saints, who arrived from other districts and states, to leave the akhara premises as per their convenience, for their own safety. Entry of fresh outsiders, including followers, has been completely prohibited in the campus,” he said.

Justifying the decision, Puri said that at least five saints in Niranjani Akhara campus have tested Covid positive so far and the test reports of others are awaited. Only those found healthy will be allowed to stay in the akhara, he said, adding that at present, over 300 saints and their followers are there in the akhara premises.

“I don’t want anyone to die here. The situation in Haridwar is worrisome. Social distancing is not possible during Shahi Snan. Also, people are comparing this Kumbh with Markaz (a religious assembly of Muslims in Delhi where many tested positive last year and were labeled as super spreaders), which is unfortunate. The Kumbh is being defamed,” Puri said.

Senior saint of Niranjani Akhara, Narendra Giri, who is also head of Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, tested Covid positive earlier this week and is admitted at AIIMS, Rishikesh since April 12.

Niranjani Akhara is the most prominent among all 13 akharas which have set up their chhavni (camps) in Haridwar for the Kumbh Mela. Seers associated with these akharas and their followers visit the camps to attend religious events during the Kumbh.

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