Uttar Pradesh Govt announces cancellation of Kanwar Yatra

Organizers of Kanwar Yatra have agreed to abandon it as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic

THC Bureau |

Photo courtesy: Wikimedia

The Uttar Pradesh government has announced that there would be no Kanwar Yatra this year, as the organizers of the pilgrimage have agreed to abandon it as a precautionary measure against the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year too it was not held for the same reason.

The Supreme Court had urged the Yogi Adityanath government to reconsider its decision to allow the yatra.

“Kanwar Yatra has been cancelled by Kanwar sanghs on the appeal of the Uttar Pradesh government,” Additional Chief Secretary of Information Navneet Sehgal told PTI. The yatra was scheduled to start on July 25.

The yatra is an annual event, with around 30 million Kanwariyas or devotees of Lord Shiva walking or driving in groups to get water from the Ganges in Haridwar. They take this as an offering to the temples of Lord Shiva back home. Most of the devotees are from north India.

The fear of an imminent third Covid wave—with the second wave killing lakhs of people—occasioned debate if holding Kanwar Yatra would be safe. It is a well-known fact that Covid protocols like social distancing and masks become lax in large gatherings.

For this reason UP’s neighbor Uttarakhand had earlier disallowed Kanwar Yatra. It also decided to shut its borders for Kanwariyas from July 24. The hill state, however, allowed other state governments to send tankers to Haridwar to take the holy water.

The Supreme Court had taken up the Kanwar Yatra issue on its own and had told the UP government and the centre to respond. The UP government told the court it would hold a symbolic yatra and only devotees who have been fully vaccinated would be allowed to participate. The centre did not oppose the Kanwar Yatra, citing religious sentiment.

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