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Two killed, 16 injured in Mauritius after oversized ‘kanwar’ hits high voltage cable

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Two killed, 16 injured in Mauritius after oversized ‘kanwar' hits high voltage cable
Video of 'kanwar' on fire. Source: Internet

Two pilgrims heading towards the Grand Bassin lake in southern Mauritius were killed on Thursday when their oversized ‘kanwar’ exploded after hitting a high-voltage power cable near Mare Longue reservoir. Some 16 other pilgrims were also injured and have been rushed to the nearby Candos Hospital.

According to first unconfirmed reports, the 22-feet structure carrying a Hindu deity was fitted with a generator – used probably to power the in-built loudpeakers.

The practice of carrying the ‘kanwar’ as a part of Maha Shivaratree festival (to be celebrated on 18 February) is widely followed by the Hindu community in Mauritius. According to traditional Hindu culture, a ‘kanwar’ is meant to be made of a single pole of bamboo.

Pilgrims present try to assist those who have been injured. Source: Internet

Over the years, the ‘kanwars’ have gradually turned into oversized structures fitted with lights and loudspeakers.

According to Le Mauricien newspaper, the generator exploded and the kanwar caught fire after hitting the high-voltage cable. One of the pilgrims, Rohan Dorjan, 22, said to be from the village of Albion, died on the spot. Parmeshwar Dookeea, 35, died at Candos Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. The other 16 injured pilgrims are said to be stable.

Reacting to the news, the Mauritius Sanatan Dharma Temples Federation urged all pilgrims to put down their kanwars immediately.

The fire ravaged the structure in minutes. Source: Defi Media.

“We ask all pilgrims carrying large ‘kanwars’ to stop wherever they are. They cannot go to Grand Bassin or go back,” President Bhojraj Ghoorbin told Defi Media.

“Every year, we ask pilgrims not to build oversized ‘kanwars’. This year, we even got a senior ‘Acharya’ (teacher in religious matters) to explain the true meaning  of a ‘kanwar’ but some people still did not listen,” he told Radio Plus.

Nonetheless, since the incident, criticisms have been pouring against socia-cultural organisations and particularly the Government Task Force on Maha Shivaratree for having been “too lenient” on the size of these structures.

According to experts, laws reportedly exist to regulate the size of such structures, especially when they hit public roads, causing heavy traffic jams, but “to enforce such laws is a different story and has political implications”.

Social media have also been flooded with criticisms against the use of powerful loudspeakers on such ‘kanwars’ – that often play loud remixed devotional songs late at night, even in residential areas, during the trip from or to Grand Bassin.

Defi Media reported that Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has cancelled his trip to Ethiopia this Thursday evening. Jugnauth was due to attend the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office gave no reason for the cancellation of the trip.

Sources: Defi Media, Le Mauricien, l’Express, Radio One

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The information and opinions expressed in our published works are those of authors/sources believed to be reliable. NewsMoris makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information expressed.