INDIA — Despite soaring COVID-19 infections across the country, tens of thousands of devout Hindus, led by heads of monasteries and ash-smeared ascetics, took a holy dip in the chilly waters of the Ganges River in northern India on Friday (Jan 14).
Hindu pilgrims gathered at Prayagraj city, 200 kilometers northeast of Lucknow, the state capital of Uttar Pradesh, near the Sangam, the confluence of three rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, to take part in the Magh Mela festival, one of Hinduism’s most hallowed pilgrimages.
They took a bath in the Ganges, which Hindus believe will wash away their sins and release them from the cycle of death and rebirth.
Last year, a similar gathering in the Himalayan town of Haridwar, in the neighboring Uttarakhand state, helped spread the Delta strain that ravaged the country and making India one of the worst-affected countries on the planet.
The festival was dubbed a “super spreader event” by epidemiologists.