North IndiaVaranasi

More than 3 lakh devotees pay a visit to Kashi Vishwanath Dham

The famous Shiva temple on first day saw hundreds of pilgrims offer their prayers.

On the inaugural day of 2022 on Saturday, Covid-19 was forgotten for a while in Varanasi. Well, anything for lord Shiva and his blessings on New Year. Devotees from across the country were seen flocking in the state, from the valley leading to Kashi Vishwanath Dham. And this was all witnessed even after there was news about a stampede at Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu leading to casualties and of course, the Omicron Fiasco.

“People had started forming queues on the routes leading to KVD since 3 am despite the night curfew in effect. Till 3 pm over three lakh, pilgrims had entered Kashi Vishwanath temple to offer prayer. As per estimate over 1.5 lakh, people were still standing in queues.” This was mentioned by Kashi Zone DCP on duty. It is right to say that even after so many arrangements by the police to maintain the decorum of the place went down the drain and seemed insufficient for the number of enthusiastic people eagerly waiting to visit the temple.

The Kashi Dham has never been a place that is without a crowd. It has always been busy and crowded even on the normal of days due to the arrival of outstation pilgrims, as per the records of temple administration and Gyanvapi security control room. According to the officials, the average footfall of devotees is 10,000 on normal days and goes above 1.50 lakh to two lakhs on special occasions like Mahashivratri and Mondays. And needless to say that this figure was also maintained during the first and second waves of Covid-19.

The opening by Prime Minister Narendra Modi led to this supermassive crowd on New Year. The PM and chief minister Yogi Adityanath themselves had informed during speeches that on December 19 the figure of devotees entering KVD had gone up to 1.5 lakhs.

It would have been better if the movement of two-wheelers, e-rickshaws, and paddle rickshaws was stopped in the morning. But it wasn’t as the massive crowd was not expected during this time. With the dawn of 2022 queues of devotees on Dasaswamedh-Godowlia-Bansphatak and Maidagin-Chowk roads also increased.

The bell rang for the officials when moving on foot started to seem impossible and the reports regarding stampede at Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu were received.

After this, many emergency precautions were taken. The additional police force, PAC, squads of women cops, and others were also called by the officials. But even after all this, it was very hard to control the crowd and it felt insufficient. People were also seen wandering carelessly, ignoring the norms of social distancing in the city, which recorded 25 new Covid-19 positive cases since Wednesday.

The supermassive crowd was also evidently visible at other famous temples in Varanasi; Sankat Mochan, Kaal Bhairav, Saranath, and other prominent temples of the city as well as the Vindhyachal temple in Mirzapur. And how can the travelers go to Varanasi and not to its magnificent ghats? Alarming crowds also gathered in huge numbers at ghats, sand bed of opposite bank of river Ganga, public parks of Sarnath, on the campus of Banaras Hindu University, and multiplexes.

Devotees also gathered for a holy dip in River Ganga at Varanasi and yet again, unaffected from Covid and the Coldwave

According to the weather update, a severe cold wave coupled with dense fog in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi was expected. The people who were there for the New Year did not feel cold and thronged to take a holy dip in the river Ganga on Sunday.

Even though the cold wave does not affect the devotees, it is a fact that the northern part of India including the national capital and most parts of Uttar Pradesh is under the grip of a chilling winter with temperatures dipping as low as 4 degrees Celsius.

Here is a thought of a resident and devotee, Pratik Tiwari, who had come to take the holy dip in river Ganga, said, “Cold will come & go, but celebrating New Year, visiting the Kashi Vishwanath corridor & bathing in the Ganga River is very fortunate. There cannot be a better beginning of a New Year than this.”

“No matter how cold it is, we take a dip in the Ganga river every day of the year. We are devoted to the goddess and we take a dip here every day,” he proudly said.

Thoughts of another devotee, Suresh, “We have come here because of the blessings of the river Ganga. There is dense fog and it is very cold, still, we have come because of our devotion,”

With temperatures in the northern part of India including the national capital and Uttar Pradesh, falling, people are finding it difficult to keep warm.

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