“Sab tirthbarbar, Gangasagar ekbar” (multiple visits can be made to all other pilgrimages, but for Gangasagar – once is enough)
That’s how Gangasagar, often considered as a metaphor for life, welcomes its devotees. Such is the significance of this yearly grand event, that the Government of West Bengal decided to go ahead with the Gangasagar Mela, even amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Every year, during the auspicious occasion of Poush Sankranti, Gangasagar Mela is held at the deltaic region, where river Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal. Gangasagar is an emotion and poetry in devotion. A Journey to Gangasagar depicts a fascinating transition from samsara (the cycle of death and rebirth) to nirvana (salvation), a journey that has captivated scholars, writers, rationalists and spiritualists since ages.
The Optimist News visited Gangasagar to meet Dr. P Ulaganathan, IAS, DM of South 24 Parganas and know about this year’s tough call of holding the Gangasagar Mela amidst the pandemic. Speaking about the safety measures put in place in order to conduct the mela safely, Ulganathan said, “We have arranged medical screening at every entry point and by now almost 5lacs people have been screened. We are also doing rapid antigen testing, for those who have temperature above the normal. Anyone who’s tested positive, is admitted to the local hospital.”
Detailing the precautionary measures, he notified, “We are sincerely implementing wearing of masks in proper ways, using sanitizers continuously and maintaining physical distancing. We are also spreading awareness by recruiting volunteers to ensure safety. Generally, people throng at the either side of the jetty, due to low tide which restricts the boat movements. We are addressing it this time and are ensuring boat- movements 24×7 along the river. We also have airlift arrangements – by means of helicopters and sea-water ambulances, in case of emergency. To reduce congregation at the sea, the administration has taken a wonderful effort by introducing the concept of e-snan. Adding to this, the District Magistrate said, “This year, the court discouraged the holy dip in order to restrict the spread of pandemic. Hence, those who would not come to Gangasagar, or came but decided against the dip, we are providing them Gangajal. Another novel introduction this year is the packed prasad which can be delivered home by ordering online from the site: www.gangasagar.in .”
We hope that these small efforts and safety measures under the constant supervision of the administration will make Gangasagar a safe and enjoyable event this year. May the land of mysticism shower abundance of peace and tranquillity upon the pilgrims!