As the COVID-19 cases in Uttarakhand shot up to 13,546, of which over 2,000 cases were reported from the site of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in the last week, Juna Akhada – one of 12 camps that participate in Shahi snan – today said that Kumbh is run by traditions and not by the government guidelines. The remarks came just hours after PM Narendra Modi tweeted to Swami Adveshananad of the Juna Akhada and requested that now Kumbh should be observed symbolically to contain the rising graph.

In a 3-minute video, Juna Akhada spokesman Narayan Giri Maharaj said that Kumbh is a big festival of Sanatan Dharma is “run by traditions and not the government guidelines”, and the “festival” will continue till May 26, as per the schedule and all of them will camp at the site, as decided.

Also read: ‘Kumbh be kept symbolic,’ says PM Narendra Modi amid COVID-19 spike

Dismissing the virus threat, the seer said that “such pandemics do occur once in every century and we should not get rattled by these, death is the ultimate truth but we should live by our traditions.”

He also said that even though will take all precautions suggested by the government but they will observe the Kumbh till the end of the last Shahi snan on May 26.

Meanwhile, Swami Avdheshanand, Acharya Mahamandleshwar of Juna Akhara, tweeted in support of PM Modi’s call for symbolic observance of the Kumbh Mela.

Also read: COVID hits Kumbh: Niranjani Akhada opts out as a seer dies, 1800 test positive

Hundreds of devotees, including nine top saints, have tested positive for Covid-19 in Haridwar who had gathered to participate in the Kumbh Mela festival. 

Many have criticised the government for allowing the festival to go ahead amid a raging pandemic.

As per the Hindu belief, taking a dip in the Ganges on the day of Shahi Snan will cleanse them of their sins and bring salvation.

Police officials say they are struggling to manage the huge crowds on the banks of the river.