Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2020

Hundreds Of Thousands Celebrate Indian Festival Amid Firus Fears

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New Delhi, March 9, 2020 (dpa/News Investigators) Hundreds of thousands of women on Monday converged on the streets to celebrate a Hindu festival in Southern India, considered the largest gathering of women, amid fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Footage on news channels showed several women wearing masks as they participated in the Attukal Pongala festivities in Kerala state.

According to the Temple Trust Chairman, Sasidharan Nair, women lined the streets and offered prayers in a 15-kilometre radius around Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in state capital Thiruvananthapuram, the main hub for the festivity and rituals.

Women gathered outdoors with their pots to cook rice and jaggery, porridge and other food items for the goddess Bhadrakali, who annihilates evil and brings prosperity to her followers.

The Kerala Health Director RL Saritha, said authorities could not cancel the festivities but took measures to clean the area, deployed medical teams to check people as and advised those who returned from overseas to celebrate at home.

“The festival ended late this afternoon and is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest gathering of the women.

“The numbers were lower than last year because of the coronavirus scare. We estimate that between 3 million and 3.5 million women were out there today,” Nair said.

Kerala, where nine people have tested positive, is the state worst-hit by coronavirus, accounting for the maximum number of such cases in India.

However, four more cases of coronavirus were confirmed in India on Monday, taking the total number of infections in the country to 43.

This, the authority said, include: a 3-year-old child with a travel history from Italy and a 63-year-old woman who visited Iran, countries that are among the worst-hit by coronavirus.

Celebrations for Holi, the festival of colours, due on Tuesday are expected to be muted, with ministers appealing to people to avoid mass gatherings.

Meanwhile, top leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi had already cancelled their programmes.

According to officials, India has also banned all foreign cruise ships from its ports because of the coronavirus, and one European vessel was turned back from its Southern coasts.(dpa/NAN)

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