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Thousands gather for Hola Mohalla festival in Punjab, give masks & social distancing a miss

Punjab has India’s highest Covid mortality rate and is seeing a surge in cases, but that didn’t seem to matter to devotees in Anandpur Sahib.

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Anandpur Sahib: The fresh surge of Covid-19 cases in Punjab, the state with the highest mortality rate in India, did not act as a dampener for Hola Mohalla celebrations held Monday.

Instead, thousands of people gathered to celebrate the spring festival, whose celebrations began on 24 March in the city of Anandpur Sahib.

Sunday, Punjab registered more than 2,900 cases, with Jalandhar recording 489, followed by Ludhiana (437), Amritsar (372), Patiala (307), Mohali (291) and Hoshiarpur (289).

ThePrint found that no Covid protocols were being followed at the festival grounds and even inside the premises of the main gurdwara, Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib. Social distancing norms and masks were absent.

However, regular visitors to the shrine said the footfall in the Hola Mohalla festivities this year was lower than other years, since trains are not running. Many also said that since a lot of farmers are engaged in the protests at the Delhi-Haryana border, while others cited the pandemic as a reason for the ‘low’ attendance.

Here are some snapshots from the celebrations.

Several people arrived for the festival in motorbikes | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Several people arrived for the Hola Mohalla festival on motorbikes, but not many covered their faces as a precaution against Covid-19 | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
From the elderly to young children — the Hola Mohalla festivities this year saw thousands of participants | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
From the elderly to young children, the Hola Mohalla festivities this year saw thousands of participants despite the Covid-19 pandemic | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Many senior citizens took a dip in the river Sarovar as part of the festivities | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Many senior citizens took a dip in the sarovar at Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib in the town of Anandpur Sahib | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Despite the recent surge in cases in Punjab, several elderly people participated in the Hola Mohalla festival | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Despite the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in Punjab, several elderly people participated in the Hola Mohalla festival | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
 Nihangs, the armed sect of Sikihism, showcased tricks outside the Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahab gurudwara | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
A member of the Nihang sect of Sikhism performed with swords outside the gurudwara | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
 Several markets were also set up outside the gurdwara and revellers could be seen crowding around these stalls | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Several markets were also set up outside the gurdwara, and devotees could be seen crowding around these stalls | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Every year, different acrobatics were showcased at the festival | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Most devotees in Anandpur Sahib for Hola Mohalla didn’t follow social distancing or mask protocols | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
 At the Hola Mohalla celebrations, some people even played with colours | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
A group of young men riding a jeep after playing with colours at the Hola Mohalla celebrations | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Elderly women, known as 'bibis', were preparing food for the attendees in the langar area | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Elderly women, known as ‘bibis’, prepared the langar for devotees | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
 Even though there were policemen deployed, they could not enforce any protocols | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
Punjab Police personnel eating at the langar | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
People stood in a long queue to enter the main shrine of the Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahab for the Hola Mohalla festivities at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
A massive crowd of people outside the main entrance of the Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib gurudwara in Anandpur Sahib | Photo: Manisha Mondal | ThePrint

(Edited by Rachel John)


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