HARIDWAR, April 12: Amid rising coronavirus cases nationwide, a sea of saffron-clad seers and ash-smeared Nagas converged at Har ki Pairi in Haridwar for a holy dip in the Ganga during the second shahi snan of the Kumbh Mela on Monday.
Led by their ‘mahamandaleshwaras’, the sadhus from different akhadas took out shobha yatras through the main thoroughfare of the pilgrimage city to gather at Brahma Kund, Hari ki Pairi for the shahi snan – or the royal bath – on Somvati Amavasya.
Marching barefoot to their destination, the seers took a dip in the river as they were showered with flower petals from helicopters arranged by the Uttarakhand government.
Masks were not worn by a large proportion and social distancing appeared impossible in an event in which, according to the mela administration, over 17 lakh people had taken a dip in the river in the first few hours up to 10 am.
While Har ki Pairi, considered the holiest of the ghats, was reserved for the akhadas from 7 am onwards, common people took the dip at the other ghats of the Ganga, revered by millions as a goddess.
Seers from Niranjani Akhada led by their mahamandaleshwar Acharya Kailashanand Giri were the first at the ghat. Sadhus from Ananda Akhada also went to the river with them.
They were followed by the Joona Akhada seers.
Former King of Nepal Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah, on his maiden visit to Haridwar, was among the devotees who took a bath in the river.
It was the second shahi snan during the ongoing Kumbh Mela, which has been limited to just one month due to rising cases of coronavirus. – PTI