The many faces at Gangasagar Mela | The Indian Express

Amid the third wave of Covid-19, which is largely driven by the Omicron variant, lakhs of devotees arrived at Sagardwip in West Bengal, where the Gangasagar Mela is underway, to take a holy bath at the point where the Ganges joins the Bay of Bengal.

One of the largest religious gatherings in India after the Kumbh Mela, the fair was held under strict Covid restrictions last year, and didn’t attract much crowds.

The sound of dugdugi, rhythm of drum beats, clapping of hands, Naga monks sitting in the arena, saints in their religious attire chanting sholkas, set the ambience of the not-so-familiar kind of traditional fair here.

Countless faces from different states such as Patna, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh among others and even Nepal, and of different religions, gather at Babughat transit camp before bathing in the Ganges.

Though the Calcutta High Court has allowed the government to organise the mela, the court has formed a two-member committee to monitor the arrangements.

The court had also ordered that only those with a negative RT-PCR report in the past 72 hours can visit the mela.

Since Friday, however, lakhs have been congregating at the mela ground flouting Covid norms, many of them without masks.

Devotees were also spotted taking the customary holy dip in the sea.