Dehradun: Seers of other akhadas in Haridwar on Friday (April 16) demanded an apology from Niranjani Akhada for announcing the “conclusion” of the Kumbh Mela in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases, saying it did not have the right to do so. Niranjani Akhada, one of the 13 akhadas of seers participating in the Kumbh, had announced in Haridwar on Thursday that the Kumbh Mela was over for them.
“The main Shahi Snan (held on the occasion of Mesh Sankranti on April 14) is over. Many in our akhada are showing symptoms. So, for us the Kumbh Mela is over,” Niranjani Akhada Secretary Ravindra Puri had said. Nirvani Ani Akhada president Mahant Dharmdas said that only the mela officer or the chief minister has the right to announce the “end of the Kumbh Mela”.
“By announcing the conclusion of the Kumbh Mela without the agreement of other akhadas, Niranjani Akhada has committed an unpardonable crime of creating chaos and confusion among the seers. Niranjani Akhada must apologise to the Akhada Parishad for what it has done or else it is difficult to keep up ties with them,” he said. Terming Niranjani Akhada’s decision as “incorrect”, he said any decision vis-a-vis Kumbh is taken collectively by the akhadas. Bada Udaseen Akhada also made it clear that it was not in favour of early conclusion of the Kumbh Mela. “No decision regarding Kumbh can be taken without a meeting of Akhada Parishad,” Bada Udaseen Akhada president Mahant Maheshwar Das said.
The Kumbh Mela is organised collectively by akhadas through consultation with each other but Niranjani Akhada did not talk to the akhadas before taking the decision, he said. “Kumbh begins and ends on its ‘Muhurat’. It will end as per the schedule. As for the Shahi Snan of April 27, it will be organised adhering to the COVID guidelines,” Das said. Niranjani Akhada Secretary Puri had said that seers of their akhada will wind up their camps and leave the Kumbh Kshetra on April 17. Those interested in taking part in the April 27 Shahi Snan may come for it separately, he had said.
Many seers have tested positive for COVID-19 after the commencement of Kumbh, including Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri, who is admitted at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh. Mahamandaleshwar of Maha Nirwani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh Swami Kapil Dev, who had tested positive for COVID-19, died at a private hospital here on April 13. Haridwar Kumbh Mela medical office said 68 seers have tested positive for COVID-19 between April 5 to 14. The ongoing Kumbh Mela has been shortened this year to just one month from April 1 to 30 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Three Shahi Snan or royal baths have so far been conducted on the occasions of Mahshivaratri, Somwati Amawasya and Mesh Sankranti or Baisakhi while the fourth is scheduled to be held on Ram Navami. In normal circumstances, the event, which comes once in 12 years, is held for nearly four months from mid-January to April.