Pilgrims Return To Ganges And Char Dham Yatra Begins As Lockdown Eases

by Suchismita Pal
Pilgrims Return To Ganges And  Char Dham Yatra Begins As Lockdown Eases

The lockdown restrictions have eased across states and normal life is gradually resuming. Therefore, devotees are now heading back to the popular sites of worship. Pilgrims have started visiting the banks of Ganges in Haridwar. However, as per reports, the number is less than two percent of the normal crowds. Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Board has also issued standard operating procedures (SOPs)  for Char Dham yatra, beginning from July 1, 2020. Read on to know the details.

Pilgrims Return Back To The Ganges As Lockdown Eases

Uttarakhand’s Haridwar attracts thousands of pilgrims every year from all across the country, who come to attend the prayer ceremonies by the Ganges and take a dip in the holy water. However, the town was devoid of visitors since late March, due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. As per reports, a local priest has informed that even during the Spanish flu pandemic that took place about a century ago, cremations on the banks of the river continued. But now, amid the coronavirus scare, the narrow lanes of Haridwar, full of shops selling artefacts, sweets, religious books and more, have become absolutely deserted. Recently, a few pilgrims have come back to the river.

The ways of worship have changed much, taking into account the protocols of social distancing. The loudspeakers in Haridwar are now broadcasting the safety measures, urging people to wear masks and use sanitizers. Also, during the lockdown, the Ganga water in Haridwar’s Har-ki-Pauri had become ‘fit for drinking’.

Pilgrims Return to the Ganges
Picture Credits: AFP

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Char Dham Yatra Begins For Uttarakhand Residents With Restrictions

The Uttarakhand government has allowed Char Dham yatra for the pilgrims of the state from July 1. The authorities had initially planned to permit entry of pilgrims from June 8. To ensure that adequate social distancing is maintained, the Uttarakhand Char Dham Devasthanam Board has issued a fresh list of guidelines to be followed by the devotees. As per the guidelines, only residents of the state can avail e-passes for temple darshan. People from containment zines and quarantine centres will not be permitted to visit the shrines. They have been strictly advised not to touch any idol while visiting the temples. They must also upload an ID proof, photo and medical documents of any chronic disease that they had gone through during the quarantine period.

Also Read: A 500-Year-Old Temple Resurfaces In Odisha

Religious places had opened doors in the country on June 8, 2020, complying with the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Now, as the travel bans are getting lifted, the pilgrimage tours are starting too. But the number of cases in the country is still on the rise. India has reported around 585, 792 confirmed cases with nearly 17, 410 deaths. The figures are undoubtedly alarming. So it’s better to stay at home and pray for the pandemic to be eradicated soon.