In the morning, when the shahi snan ritual started, it was being estimated that the turnout would be around 3 lakh. Officials announced by evening that around 25,000 people had participated in the shahi snan till 5 pm.
Even 3 lakh or even 25,000 is too large a number of people congregating at the height of a deadly epidemic. With mounting deaths all around, especially in the past fortnight, the state government should have ensured that the last shahi snan was a symbolic event. Now one can only hope that this doesn’t turn out to be a superspreader event.
Sanjay Gunjyal, IG (Kumbh), told TOI, “Seers of all the 13 akhadas reached Harki-Pauri in limited numbers. Around 25,000 pilgrims and seers participated in the last shahi snan. All Covid-19 protocols and other SOPs were strictly enforced.” The sanyasi akhadas—Niranjani and Anand — took the first dip, followed by Juna, Agni, Ahavan, Mahanirvani and Atal akhadas.