India: Thousands take holy dip in Ganges amid COVID fears

Hundreds of thousands of Indian pilgrims began flooding an island in the Ganges on Thursday for a massive religious ceremony as Covid-19 cases spread across the country.

Authorities said they expect up to three million people, including ash-stained ascetics and sporting firecrackers, to bathe in the sacred river on Friday, the highlight of the annual Gangasagar Mela.

A similar massive religious ceremony, the Kumbh Mela, which the Hindu nationalist government refused to ban last April, has been blamed in part for the devastating rise in cases that has claimed 200,000 lives, according to official statistics, although some experts fear the real toll. several times higher.

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