IMA urges Uttarakhand CM not to allow Kanwar Yatra

Dehradun: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the possible third COVID-19 wave.

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.

The ‘Kanwar Yatra’ is an annual pilgrimage of Lord Shiva’s devotees. Every year during the Hindu calendar month of ‘Saavan’, thousands of devotees from across India undertake the pilgrimage. It was cancelled last year due to the rising COVID-19 cases.

“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.

Regarding the final decision whether it will be conducted or not, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Friday said that the Kanwar Yatra is not a one-state affair and the state government will take the decision after discussing it with other states, including Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

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

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 in March, another religious pilgrimage, the Kumbh Mela, was curtailed in light of rising COVID-19 cases.