With Masks, Sanitizers and Covid Tests, Bengal Readies for Ganga Sagar Mela
KOLKATA, INDIA, December 26, 2020 (Hindustan Times): The West Bengal government is gearing up to receive millions of pilgrims in mid-January for the Ganga Sagar Mela, the second largest congregation of pilgrims in India after the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj. It has also made arrangements for live streaming of the holy dip during the mela in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pilgrims can book online a tirtha samagri pack comprising Ganga Jal in a container, prasad and the holy tika. "E-snan [bath] is a first initiative by the district administration through which people can take a bath with Ganga Jal at the convenience while watching live Ganga Sagar on the website and take the feel of the sahi snan," said P. Ulaganathan, district magistrate of South 24 Parganas, where the mela is held every year.
More than four million people take the holy dip at the confluence of River Ganges and Bay of Bengal in mid-January to celebrate Makar Sankranti, the first major Hindu festival in the Gregorian calendar. "As this is a pandemic year, apart from the usual healthcare facilities that are available every year for the pilgrims, this time we need to set up a separate infrastructure for Covid-19 suspects and patients," said an official of the district administration. Suspected Covid-19 pilgrims would be tested at various check-points, starting from Kolkata. Wrist bands would be provided to pilgrims who undergo Covid-19 tests for easy identification and their health would be monitored. The vehicles of pilgrims would be sanitized. Masks and sanitizers will also be provided. An app named Atithi Path has been launched which will provide all details of the mela including route charts, timings of the tide, and puja and act as a virtual tour guide.