Indian religious gathering attended by millions helped the virus spread

The combination of an enormous wave of coronavirus cases and one of the biggest mass gatherings on the planet has fueled criticism that India’s government should have curtailed the religious event or canceled it altogether. Last year, when India had just several hundred coronavirus cases, the government swiftly imposed a nationwide lockdown. The Kumbh Mela “may end up being the biggest superspreader in the history of this pandemic,” said Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University, in a recent interview with Indian news outlet The Wire. “It brought so many people together from across India.”... Tirath Singh Rawat, the leader of the state where the Kumbh Mela took place and a member of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, urged devotees from all over the world to attend. “Nobody will be stopped in the name of covid-19,” he said in March. “We are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”