Thirty residents of Kherua village of Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh embarked on their 12-day pilgrimage to holy Kumbh mela in Haridwar, one of the largest human gatherings on the planet.
Thirty more from neighboring villages soon joined them. These entourage were on the 900 km bus ride from Vidisha to Haridwar, which lasted two days.
But halfway through, the pilgrims were surprised with a fear of COVID. This is how a co-passenger who was on the same bus recounted the incident to The Straight.
The pilgrims reached the Kumbh in time for the first and second Shahi Snan which were scheduled for March 11 and 12. Everything seemed fine to whoever called, except the husband was lying. His COVID-positive wife was traveling on the same bus with him.
The pilgrims were at the Kumbh during the first and second Shahi Snan which were scheduled for March 11 and 12.
Millions of people took a sacred dip in the Ganges river during Shahi Snan. Some reports indicate that more than 20 lakh devotees attended the first Shahi Snan at Maha Shivratri on March 11.
After the Kumbh, Vidisha devotees continued their journey to Naina Devi Temple, Chandi Devi Temple, and Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu. It was not until March 24 that the government of Uttarakhand made it compulsory for worshipers to bring a negative RTPCR report dating back less than 72 hours to attend the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar.
Some of the group began to fall ill after the pilgrimage to the mountains. They returned home on March 20.
After Kamal informed local authorities, the Vidisha District Hospital sent a team to the village for COVID testing.
It was not just the returnees from Kumbh, other villagers were also infected now.
As India continues to falter under the new wave of COVID-19 cases, there are concerns that returnees from Kumbh may further contribute to the rapid rise in infections. More than 2,000 new cases were reported in Kumbh between April 10 and April 14.