Many People Gather on the Ganges River Despite the Omicron Variant

Tens of thousands of Hindus in India, led by the head of the temple and ascetics, gathered and followed the holy ritual in the Ganges. Residents still attend the moment that became part of this religious festival, even though India was facing a surge in the Corona virus (Covid-19) case triggered by a very contagious Omicron variant.

As reported by the Associated Press on Friday (14/1/2022), Hindus pilgrims gathered in Sangam, meeting three rivers – Gangga, Yamuna and Sacred Saraswati in Prayagraj City, which is 200 kilometers northeast of Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh .

They participated in the Mela Magh festival, which is one of the most sacred pilgrimage festivals in Hindu teachings. Pilivers of soaking and bathing in the Ganges River, in a Hindu ritual which is believed to remove sin and release them from the death cycle and rebirth.

Similar moments at last year’s Hindu festival in the city of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, helped spread the Delta variant that went berserk in India and made the country one of the most severe Corona affected countries.

Epidemiological experts call the festival as a ‘super-spreader event’.

Corona’s transmission which was driven by Omicron variant was reported to be increasing rapidly throughout India. The country reported more than 264,000 cases of Corona on Friday (14/1) local time, but the inpatient figures remained relatively low.

Millions of Hindus are expected to adequate the festival for the next 47 days. Many of them will stay on the banks of the Ganges river for a month to live ascetic lives, with confidence they will receive salvation.

The festival reaped fears that pilgrims could be infected with Corona and bring the virus back to various cities and other villages which were their home areas. So far, 77 police reported and 12 cleaners deployed at the festival had been declared Corona positive.

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