The Ganga Snan Mela and Deepdaan festival at Garhmukteshwar in Hapur district and at Hastinapur in Meerut district have been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, officials said.
The Mela (fair) was scheduled to start in Garhmukteshwar on Wednesday and in Hastinapur on Friday.
Additional superintendent of police, Hapur, Sarvesh Mishra said the state government decided to cancel the Ganga Snan Mela in Garhmukteshwar after examining a joint report of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police.
“A ban on the arrival of devotees has been imposed between November 25 and 30 at the mela venue on the bank of the Ganga in compliance with the order,” said Mishra. He added that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code had been imposed in the area.
Every year, thousands of devotees from the nearby districts of western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan arrive on the bank of the Ganga in Garhmukteshwar for ritual bathing in the river on the occasion of Kartik Purnima and offer Deepdaan for the salvation of their ancestors. As part of Deepdaan, earthen lamps are lit and floated down the river. Mishra said barriers had been put up on the borders of the district to prevent entry of people into the Mela Sthal.
The state government allocates Rs 1 crore for the mela every year and the event continues for three to four days.
The Meerut zila panchayat organises a similar mela on the bank of the Ganga at Makhdoompur in Hastinapur area every year. Here, too, thousands of devotees gather to bathe in the Ganga.
Zila panchayat chairman Kulwinder Singh said that the mela had been cancelled in Hastinapur this year due to the pandemic.
“All members were of the opinion that the mela should not be organised at the risk of peoples’ lives,” Singh said.
Circle officer, Mawana area, Uday Pratap Singh said people were being sensitised to avoid visiting the riverbank in groups. He also said that barriers may be put up.
Kulwinder Singh said that devotees may visit the riverbank individually, but they would not be allowed to move in groups.