In view of the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, few social media posts (here & here) accompanying images showing large gatherings of Hindu devotees are being shared with a claim that these pictures show a gathering of devotees at the 2021 Kumbh Mela. Through this article, let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.
Claim: Images of large Hindu devotee gatherings at recent Kumbh Mela.
Fact: These images are not related to the ongoing 2021 Kumbh Mela at Haridwar. While one image shows a huge devotee gathering in Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj back in 2019, the other image shows a devotee gathering at Kumbh Mela back in 2013. Hence the claim made in the post is FALSE.
Reverse image search of this photo led us to a 2019 news article by CGTN which shared the same image. As per this article, the image shows ‘an aerial view of the five-kilometer main bathing place at the holy Sangam in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, India’.
Further search led us to a similar image but a slightly closer view on Alamy, a stock image repository. As per the details of this photo available on the website, this image was clicked during the Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj, UP back in 2019. Few news articles which published the same image attributing it to 2019 Kumbh Mela can be read here and here. All these establish the fact that this particular image is not related to the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.
Reverse image search of this particular photo led us to an article which published the same image back in 2013. The author in this article writes about his experience of visiting Kumbh Mela back in 2013 and about Kumbh Mela in general. The article publishes few more images which show devotees in the same attire as in the image shared with the post. This proves that this image has nothing to do with the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.
In view of reports of at least 1000 COVID-19 cases in two days in the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, posts like these are being shared with misleading claims. According to news reports, the ongoing Kumbh Mela is being organized under strict COVID-19 norms. Also, a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours before arrival has been made mandatory for devotees gathering for the Kumbh. Some images of the ongoing Kumbh Mela at Haridwar can be seen here.
To sum it up, old images are being shared as those related to the ongoing Kumbh Mela gathering amidst the increase in India’s COVID-19 cases.