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Sindhu Darshan postponed in Ladakh due to COVID-19

Sindhu Darshan 2021 postponed in Ladakh

Irrespective of the developmental work going at Sindhu Ghat associated with Indus Front, official review meetings in respect of the progress of labor, etc couldn’t be construed as something associated with developments in respect of holding of Sindhu Darshan event of this year as scheduled. How could it’s – as postponing or canceling it as otherwise expected is all thanks to the invasion of COVID-19 pandemic in most parts of the country including the UT of Ladakh.

Sindhu Darshan Festival in Leh (Ladakh)

The Sindhu Darshan Festival is a celebration of the Sindhu River, also known as the Indus River. The festival has started relatively recently. The first celebration held in 1997 was a simple affair. From the year 2000 onwards, the celebrations were organized on a grand scale.

The Mighty Sindhu (Indus) River 

The Sindhu River is an ancient river on whose banks the Indus Valley Civilisation flourished. It is one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of annual flow. The Sindhu River is 3180 km long and originates in Western Tibet. The river flows through the Ladakh and Gilgit areas of the Himalayas and then turns downwards near Nanga Parbat. It then continues its journey and finally merges with the Arabian Sea near Karachi in Pakistan.

The Sindhu River has two main tributaries – the Zanskar River in the mountains and the Panjnad River in the plains. The five rivers of Punjab – Chenab, Ravi, Jhelum, Beas, and Sutlej are tributaries of the Panjnad River. Besides these, the Sindhu River has five other tributaries in the mountains. 

The word – ‘Sindhu’ means a Sea or an Ocean.  The Sindhu River got this name because of its vast size, water volume and length. At one point the Sindhu River is 16 km wide! Foreigners called it the Indus River. Various names given to Bharat – such as Hindustan, Hind and India come from the word –  Sindhu.

Sindhu Darshan Festival

The Sindhu River enters India at a place near Ladakh. Before India was partitioned, the Sindhi Community used to worship the Sindhu River in Sindh. They were deprived of this after Sind was included in Pakistan. In 1996 L K Advani, a prominent political leader visited Ladakh and rediscovered the point where the Sindhu River enters India. Advani started the Sindhu Darshan Abhiyan in the same year which developed into a major festival in 2000 CE. The Sindhu Cultural Center was also established in 2000.

The Sindhu Darshan Festival is held on Guru Purnima day (Ashadh Month) each year at Shey, about 8 km from Leh. Though people from all parts of India and abroad come to celebrate this occasion, it is of special importance for the Sindhi Community. The festival is held on the banks of the Sindhu (Indus) River and goes on for three days. In the year 2000, when the festival was celebrated on a grand scale, then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee was in attendance. Water from the Brahmaputra River was brought and poured into the Sindhu. This is because both rivers originate from the same source. This ritual was expanded over the years. Visitors and devotees from all parts of India started bringing water from rivers in their areas to pour into the Sindhu. This ritual symbolizes the unity and integrity of India.

The first day of the festival is marked by prayers and rituals by a committee that consists of members from all religions. Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs join in the prayers to promote nationalism. Numerous cultural events and shows are organized by artists from different states. Local sightseeing trips are also organized for participants. At night all gather around a huge bonfire to enjoy the warmth and exchange thoughts. On the second day a Puja is held on the banks of the river which goes on till afternoon. Visitors spend the rest of the day relaxing and local sightseeing. On the third day, the festival is wound up after a short ceremony and people get ready to make their way back. Some venture to Zanskar and other remote regions of Ladakh, while most return to Srinagar or Jammu.

Sindhu Darshan Festival – 2021 – Uncertainty due to the situation

This year however, there is some uncertainty as to whether the Festival will be canceled or postponed. There is no clarification from the administration yet. All stakeholders will be consulted and a decision arrived at. It may be canceled altogether for this year or it could be postponed. As soon as a decision is taken, it will be made known.

How to Reach Leh

The nearest railway station is Jammu, about 700 km from Leh. Buses and Taxis are easily available from Jammu to reach Leh.

Leh has its own airport and is connected to various cities like Delhi, Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh, etc.

Buses and Taxis from Srinagar are easily available to get to Leh.

Leh can also be reached by road from Manali in Himachal Pradesh which is about 495 km from Leh.

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