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The shadow of the deadly novel coronavirus now looms large over the annual Ashokastami Mela scheduled to be held from April 1 in Dhubri town.

This year’s Ashokastami Mela, one of the largest events in Dhubri, has now been on the verge of cancellation due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The Dhubri Ashokastami Mela Committee, organizer of the Ashokastami Mela, had planned big to turn the event a grand success this year.

Ganesh Sah, secretary of the Dhubri Ashokastami Mela Committee said, “It is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event on the scheduled time.”

“Since it has been advised by the government to avoid all mass gatherings, the Dhubri district administration has directed us to postpone the mela for next 15 days,” said Sen.

The decision to organize the Mela will be decided on or after April 15, added Sen.

The event was scheduled to take place at Dhubri Mela Maidain from April 1-15.

However, the holy bath on this occasion will be performed at different river ghats of the Brahmaputra as usual, Sen added.

“It is mythological faiths that a holy dip in sacred rivers during the Ashokastami takes humans out of the circle of life and death,” said Sen.

“That is why the devotees in lakhs from Lower Assam and neighbouring districts of West Bengal throng in Dhubri town in a bid to deliberate themselves on this auspicious occasion of Ashokastami,” he added.

Sen also informed that the Mela is celebrated every year on the eighth day of the bright half (Shukla Pakha) of the Chaitra month as per the Hindu calendar.

Dr. BK Das, superintendent of Dhubri Civil Hospital said the district health department has been closely monitoring the situation over the possible outbreak of novel COVID-19 or coronavirus.

In order to meet any emergency, an isolation ward of 15 beds has already been made operational at the civil hospital, Dr Das said.

Another medical official Tapash Mazumdar said, “There’s no need to panic.”

“We have started spreading awareness among people and it is the need of the hour to educate the common public to avoid venturing out in the public if they suffer from flu,” said Mazumdar.

“The Personnel Protective Equipments (PPE) has already been made available to all medical staff in order to prevent the virus infection from spreading,” he added.

Meanwhile, with a sudden surge in coronavirus cases in India, the Assam government on Sunday directed to close all educational institutes, cinema halls, shopping malls and gyms with immediate effect up to March 29.

On Sunday, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 or coronavirus touched the mark of over 100 in India.

Mukesh Kr Singh

Mukesh Kr Singh is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dhubri. He can be reached at: