Haridwar (Uttarakhand) [India], April 17 (ANI): Juna Akhara's Mahamandleshwar Swami Avdheshanand Giri on Friday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to keep Haridwar Kumbh Mela "symbolic" amid surging COVID-19 cases in the country.
"PM called me up and inquired about Kumbh Mela and the health of 'sadhus'. Most snans are complete, only one remains - of 'bairagis'. The number of 'sadhus' participating in it is very less and they too believe that they should participate symbolically," said Swami Avdheshanand Giri.
"Kumbh cannot be ended until 'bairagi' akhara participates in 'shahi snan' however they will celebrate symbolically. The Shahi Snan of April 27, will be performed by the 'bairagi' akharas symbolically," he added.
He also appealed to the people not to come in large numbers for "shahi snan" and said elders and children must not come for the "shahi snan" amid the COVID-19 surge.
PM Modi spoke to Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Acharya Mahamandleshwar, Juna Akhara to inquire about the health of the seers and requested him to keep the religious congregation symbolic due to the pandemic.
Earlier on Friday, 30 'sadhus' tested positive for COVID-19 amidst the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
The first bath was held on March 11 on the occasion of Mahashivratri, the second took place on April 14 and the third on April 14. The fourth shahi snan is scheduled on April 27.
According to the schedule of major events, four 'shahi snan' and nine 'Ganga Snan' will take place at Haridwar this year. The 'snans' are a part of the Kumbh Mela that is supposed to be held in Haridwar from April 1 to April 30.
The duration of the Kumbh festival has been shortened to 30 days this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Kumbh is held periodically at four different locations in India -- Nashik, Haridwar, Prayagraj, and Ujjain. In normal circumstances, Kumbh continues for nearly four months but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the duration of the congregation has been curtailed to one month. (ANI)