Shimla, Jan 14 (IANS) With a surge in Covid-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh, devotees on Friday were prohibited from taking dips in rivers to mark Makar Sankranti, a major harvest festival.
For the safety of devotees, there was a ban on gathering at Tattapani, 55 km from the state capital, and Manikaran, home to a Sikh shrine in Kullu district, for taking bath in the Satluj and Parvati rivers, respectively, officials said.
Every year, a huge number of devotees take a holy dip in Tattapani and Manikaran, known for hot water springs with high sulphur concentration, to celebrate the festival.
Holding of community kitchens to mark the occasions was also banned, an official told IANS.
The natural and prominent hot springs, which disappeared after the construction of the 800 MW Koldam hydroelectric power project executed by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) along the Satluj in Tattapani, have been restored. Its reservoir had submerged the hot springs.
Normally, Tattapani sees more than 25,000 devotees offering prayers during a holy bath on Makar Sankranti at natural hot water springs there.
Devotees were also not seen at the historic Vashist temple, located on the outskirts of the popular tourist resort Manali.
The temple is situated on the left bank of Beas river, also known for its hot springs.
Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of the country.
It also marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights.