Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for the ongoing Kumbh Mela in Haridwar to be kept “symbolic” after more than 1,800 COVID-19 cases were reported from there. The head of the 13 akhadas of seers died of COVID-19 and another pulled out of the religious gathering after several of its members contracted the coronavirus.

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In a telephone call with Swami Avdheshanand of the Juna Akhada, Modi said that two “shashi snans” have already taken place and urged that “the Kumbh be kept symbolic due to the corona crisis.”

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“This will give a strength to the fight against this crisis,” he added.

In his conversation, he also inquired about the health of sages and said they were “cooperating with the administration in every way possible.”

In response, Swami Avdheshanand said the “we respect PM’s appeal.”

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He has requested devotees to not come for snan in large numbers and follow all the rules.