Thousands of devotees celebrate Makar Mela in Nepal amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Representative image. (Picture credit: Reuters)

Kavrepalanchowk [Nepal], January 15 (ANI): Thousands of devotees flocked to the embankments of Tribeni Ghat in Kavrepalanchowk district in Nepal for the Makar Mela which is held once in every 12 years and began formally on Saturday despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Devotees in Nepal believe that taking a dip in the holy river flowing through Triveni Ghat (junction of three rivers: Rudrawati, Lilawati and Padhmawati), would wash away all sins as well cure skin diseases. Thousands of devotees are expected to attend the Mela during the month. However, organisers of the fair have claimed that it would be a muted one due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“After the meeting held with stakeholders, the fair would be called off but the ritual of bathing shall continue capping it to 25 people at a time. Following the decision, we have not given permission to install swings and start other recreational activities around the venue and have made the arrangements for bathing on basis of it. Along with, volunteers and police forces also will be on the ground to implement it,” Pursottam Karmacharya, local representative of Panauti Municipality and also a member of fair organizing committee told ANI.
“An estimated 20,000-30,000 people visited the sacred place on the first day of the fair. The number in earlier years used to stand at millions but this year it might dip down due to the COVID scare,” Karmacharya added.
However, the local representative also said that the warning signs about COVID-19 infection might result in the slump of devotees but can not be sure about it because people are always ahead when it comes to religion and culture.
“The number of people would constantly continue to rise and to cope with it we have made preparations from the security point of view to tackle the virus as well as other incidents. Police also has been deployed at various locations around for it,” Karmacharya added.
The fair is marked following the ancient belief of Lord Indra, God of heaven, getting rid of disease after meditating for 12 years to please Lord Shiva. It is said that Indra was suffering from an incurable disease and continued his meditation by taking bathe in Triveni Ghat.
Pleased with Indra, Shiva decided to mix nectar of his cure in the waters of Rudrawati and when Indra bathed in the holy water of this river, he was instantly cured of his ailment.
Since then, it is said that every 12 years, the nectar of cure for all diseases flows through this river. It is also believed that taking bathe at Triveni Ghat will relieve people from all earthly sins and help them get salvation.
“Every 12 years people come here to bathe and wash away the sins they have committed and they also go to Gorakhnath which is located on the high hills taking water from the river and offer it there seeking blessing and the same process is performed at Indreshwor Mahadev located in the next courtyard from the trijunction,” Sarvagya Shakya, one of the residents of Panauti said. (ANI)