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The religious festival is known in India and elsewhere around the world as Kumbh Mela on the banks of the river Ganges in Haridwar city – has finally come to an end.
In Haridwar city on Tuesday, hundreds of Hindu devotees converged at the “Har Ki Pauri,” the main riverbank of the Ganges, to mark the last of the four holy dips as part of the Kumbh festivities. Kumbh Mela, a religious festival held every twelve years, draws a large gathering of several thousand people.
The local government of Uttarkarand state allowed the festival to be held, even though India is registering a devastating number of COVID cases each day - more than 300,000 - along with more deaths officially being reported by the country's health ministry. Attendees at the festival made random use of masks, and social distancing was not followed strictly by the masses.
Usually regarded as one of the most auspicious and most significant gatherings of Hindus in India, this year's Haridwar Kumbh may go down in history as a super spreader of the deadly coronavirus. In past weeks, thousands of attendees tested positive for COVID, according to local senior health officials. But the festivities were not canceled by the government.
"There should not have been this gathering at Haridwar this year, under the present circumstances. The government should have taken a wiser call. Haridwar is a small town," Shashank Kashyap, another local from Haridwar, told Sputnik.
Whether you blame farmer’s protests, election rallies or Kumbh mela - pls appreciate that it’s not so simple! India’s massive COVID surge puzzles scientists. Here’s why: https://t.co/UdLwQzx2zE
"We do not have hi-tech pathology labs and big enough hospitals to accommodate COVID patients if there were an outbreak such as in Delhi. The large gathering jeopardized not only those traveling but also the lives of those sharing transportation. These attendees, many of whom could test positive for the virus, would get down at different cities and further spread the virus," he added.
Meanwhile, the total Indian death toll has crossed the 17 million mark, and 197,894 deaths were reported.
The number of active cases in India is approximately 2.9 million (2,882,204 at writing). According to the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry, more than 14.5 million (14,556,209) patients have recovered so far in the country.
The country struggles to meet the demand for medical oxygen, beds, and drugs for COVID patients and is being offered help by other countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, UK, the US, Germany, Pakistan, Singapore, and Bhutan.