With the official announcement of Kanwar Yatra from July 15 after a gap of a year in view of the Covid 19 pandemic, the preparations have been started by the officials for this mega religious congregation in which crores of pilgrims participate annually.
The Kanwar Yatra, which commences every year with the start of the Hindu month of Sawan, will this year begin from July 15 and conclude on August 6 on the day of Shivratri. Last year, the Kanwar Yatra was cancelled by the governments in UP and Uttarakhand in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic but this year the decision to organise it has been taken up.
In this Yatra, Kanwarias (pilgrims) collect holy water of Ganges from Haridwar, carry it on their shoulders walking barefoot and offer it to Lord Shiva on Shivratri at different temples. An estimated 3-4 crore Kanwarias participate in this Kanwar Mela which is known as one of the world’s largest religious congregations.
On Friday evening, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a meeting on Video conferencing with the Divisional Commissioner of Meerut Surendra Singh, ADG of Meerut Zone Rajeev Sabbharwal, and IG of Meerut range Praveen Kumar. In the meeting, the CM discussed at length the arrangements that have to be made for the Yatra, particularly in wake of the threat of a possible third wave of Covid 19.
Commissioner Singh said that the decision to give a green signal for the Kanwar Yatra this year has been taken by the state government but with all possible precautions in view of Covid 19. The Kanwar Yatra would be organised this year in a majestic way.
Though initially, the Uttarakhand government was not ready to hold Kanwar Yatra this year now it has agreed to it, said the commissioner adding that we will ensure that the Yatra is conducted safely and Kanwarias would be expected to follow Covid protocol.
He informed that Covid hospitals with at least 10 beds would be created in each district falling in the Yatra route. Help desks would be erected in temples and camps of Kanwarias with the facility of Covid 19 testings, he added.
All arrangements would be made before the commencement of Yatra on July 15. To ensure this, the Commissioner has called a meeting of all departments on July 13 to discuss the arrangements to be made for the Yatra. A detailed plan for the Yatra will also be worked out.
Though there is no official data available an estimated 4 crores Kanwarias are expected to participate in the Yatra this year. Kanwarias from Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and different districts of western UP come to collect holy water of Ganges from Hardwar and Rishikesh and travel back home on foot carrying this holy water on their shoulders that is offered on Shivratri. Some even perform Kanwar Yatra on bikes, cars, trucks called Dak-Kanwar.
During this Yatra period, the National Highway 58 connecting Delhi to Hardwar is full of Kanwarias in saffron outfits chanting ‘Bam Bhole’. For at least a week, the normal traffic remains suspended on this route.