Home >News >India >Uttarakhand cancels annual Kanwar Yatra amid Covid, CM says 'saving lives paramount'

The Uttarakhand Government on Tuesday decided to cancel the annual Kanwar Yatra, in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, news agency ANI reported.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has acknowledged the cultural significance of Kanwar Yatra but reiterated that his government's priority remains saving lives amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Kanwar is part of the Sanatan culture but saving lives is paramount. The government's focus is to ensure that Covid does not spread," CM Dhami said.

Dhami, who met central leaders in the national capital including Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a range of issues, has been saying repeatedly that saving human lives is important.

The Uttarakhand Chief Minister further said that the yatra is a matter of shraddha (reverence) and aastha (faith), and God would not like anyone to die.

IMA urges Uttarakhand CM not to allow Kanwar Yatra

The development comes hours after the Indian Medical Association or IMA wrote to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the possible third wave of the pandemic.

In the letter, IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr Ajay Khanna expressed concerns about the crowds that may gather for the annual pilgrimage and urged Dhami not to allow devotees from outside to enter the state for the Yatra.

"I request you to disallow the coming proposed Kanwar Yatra in July - August 2021... We should not allow devotees to enter the boundaries of our state and keep the state safe from the third wave of Covid," Dr Khanna said.

Every year, tens of thousands of 'Kanwariyas' (devotees of Lord Shiva) from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar to offer at Shiva temples in their areas as part of the yatra.

For the annual Yatra, pilgrims visit Haridwar, Gaumukh, and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch the water from the river Ganga. Later, the holy water is dispensed as offerings to Lord Shiva in temples.

Earlier today, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had urged that only a minimum number of people should participate in the annual Kanwar Yatra yatra and directed the strict implementation of the coronavirus norms.

The UP government, which has allowed the yatra from 25 July despite concerns raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such events in triggering a possible third wave of Covid-19, said a negative RT-PCR test report can be made compulsory for pilgrims, if required.

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