India is celebrating Makar Sankranti today. Since early morning, thousands of pilgrims are at the bathing ghats (banks) of the Ganga in Prayagraj, Haridwar and other places for the holy dip and rituals. Devotees are taking a dip at the confluence of the Ganga and the Bay of Bengal at Gangasagar as well. After bathing at Gangasagar, devotees offer prayers at Kapil Muni ashram. The Kumbh Mela and the Gangasagar Mela, the two significant pilgrimage sites during Makar Sankranti, in Haridwar and West Bengal are seeing devotees, braving the cold and fog, to take the holy dip and offer prayers to Surya devta or the Sun god. The administration in both places have implemented strict COVID-19 safety protocols and a large number of volunteers and police personnel have been deployed to ensure people follow the guidelines, officials told news agency Press Trust of India.
Devotees also gathered at the Hoogli river in Kolkata for the auspicious Makar Sankranti.
Here are visuals from the temple city of Varanasi.
At Gangasagar, the timings for the Ganga snan this year is from 6.02 am on Thursday to 6.02 am on Friday, according to the Hindu calendar. The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday allowed the Gangasagar Mela to be held amid the pandemic and also asked the West Bengal government to pursue pilgrims to opt for ''e-snan'' or "e-bath" to avoid crowding. Packaged holy water from Gangasagar for the "e-snan" will be given free of cost, the West Bengal government told the court. People can order prasad and pouches of the holy water from the Gangasager.
The Director of Health Services in West Bengal, in a report, said precautionary measure for Covid-19 are in place and pilgrims will be allowed to go for a dip in a staggered manner, to maintain social distance.