Despite a 30-fold increase in coronavirus cases in the previous month, thousands of Hindu worshippers congregated on the banks of India’s Ganges river on Friday for a holy bath.
The news: On the 14th of January, Hindus believe that bathing in the holy river takes away sins.
- A significant number of devotees were taking a bath in the sacred river, which flows through the eastern state of West Bengal, which, after Maharashtra in the west, is reporting the highest number of cases in the country.
- Thousands of pilgrims flocked to the river’s banks in the holy city of Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh’s northern state, some donning masks.
What they’re saying: After emerging from the river, Ram Phal Tripathi, who had travelled with his family from a hamlet in Uttar Pradesh, remarked, “I can’t breathe with a mask.”
- “Every year, I make the pilgrimage to take a sacred bath. I’m not sure how I missed it this year.”
In addition: The highly transmissible Omicron strain is causing a surge in coronavirus cases in India, but hospitalizations are rare, with most people healing at home.
Doctors have unsuccessfully petitioned the West Bengal state high court to overturn a decision to allow the festival this year, fearing that it would serve as a viral “super spreader.”