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Management of a religious mass gathering in North India: Parkash Utsav 550

Kapil Goel, MD, Nikita Sharma, MD, Ranjitpal Singh Bhogal, MHA, Amarjeet Singh, MD


Background: The 550th Birth Anniversary (Parkash Utsav) celebrations of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh Guru, was celebrated with great devotion and fervor at Sultanpur Lodhi, Punjab, India, from November 1 to 14, 2019. The authors aimed to shed light on the planning and management of the event and the factors that led to its success.

Methods: The researchers conducted key informant interviews with authority figures, resource mapping, and observations. The researchers focused on the event’s medical lounge. Open-ended questions were asked to gather information regarding various measures taken to organize and execute the event. The data were entered and analyzed using Microsoft Excel 7.0 and SPSS 20.0 (Trial version).

Results: About three million people attended the Parkash Utsav 550 celebrations. Three tent cities were set up in Sultanpur Lodhi with the consideration for incoming road traffic. The state government deployed 820 medical personnel, including 150 doctors, 470 paramedics, and 200 volunteers. A total of 19,521 patients were seen in the outpatient department of the Medical Lounge. The government made sufficient arrangements for various services, such as drinking water, langar (or community kitchens), sanitation, and security. Approximately 37 langar halls were constructed in the town to provide healthy food to the devotees. An integrated command and control center was set up for surveillance and monitoring. For the convenience of the devotees, 1,908 toilets, 1,476 urinals, and 132 bathing units were installed. The District Administration of Kapurthala launched an event-specific mobile application, “Parkash Utsav 550,” for the use of pilgrims as well as government officials. No stampedes, outbreaks, and fire incidents were reported.

Conclusions: Parkash Utsav 550 was successfully celebrated. Studying the Parkash Utsav 550 presented a unique opportunity to generate an evidence base for the development of solutions and recommendations for the prevention, management, and control of infectious diseases, stampedes, and fire incidents during mass gatherings. In-depth studies of the Parkash Utsav in the future are required to produce evidence for context-specific measures for addressing the complex health challenges of mass gatherings.


mass gathering event, large crowd event, emergency medical services, preparedness, planning, event organizers

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