Muted Navaratri festivities in Delhi, Kejriwal urges people to follow Covid-19 measures
Almost all major committees in Delhi, which would organise mega fairs with performances by top artists, have cancelled Ramlilas.Updated: Oct 17, 2020, 11:48 IST
Navaratri festivities, which began on Saturday, are expected to be largely muted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The national Capital still has 22,814 active cases of the disease that has killed 5,946 people in the city so far.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday tweeted the festival greetings and urged people to follow Covid-19 guidelines. “Navaratri is starting from today. I convey my best wishes to all of you on the occasion of this auspicious festival. May the blessings of Goddess Durga be upon you all. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, I appeal to everyone to remember and follow all the rules in public places. Ensure that you always step out wearing a mask,” Kejriwal said in a tweet in Hindi.
Almost all major committees in Delhi, which would organise mega fairs with performances by top artists, have cancelled Ramlilas. The events include those attended by the President and the Prime Minister.
With no scope for the 11-day festivities, many committees are now doing symbolic Pujas on a smaller scale.
Ravi Jain, press secretary of Shri Dharmik Lila Committee, which used to hold Ramlila at the Red Fort, said they will simply do a Ganesh Puja on Saturday to mark the beginning of Navaratras .
“We are inviting devotees to join our Ganesh Pujan at 5:30 on Saturday at Maharaja Agrasen Park near gate no 3 of Kashmere Gate Metro Station. We are also conveying it to everyone through SMS and WhatsApp messages that masks and social distancing are to be followed compulsorily.”
With hardly any fairs for them to go to, temples in the city are preparing for a surge in the number of devotees.
South Delhi’s Kalkaji Mandir has sought help from the police and the district magistrate to manage crowds and ensure Covid-19 guidelines are followed.
“Our temples have been opened for the people from today [Saturday]. We will also be live streaming all our morning and evening aartis to decongest our temple via all our social media handles. People can be at their homes and pray while watching the live Aarti,” said a member from the Kalkaji Mandir management.
Kishor Chawla, the chief executive officer of Katyayani Shaktipeeth temple in Chhattarpur, said the devotees will not get prasad at the temple and social distancing will be maintained. He added prasad will be given to the devotees in packets. The entry of devotees without masks is strictly prohibited, Chawla said.
The grounds of the Red Fort, which used to host three of the biggest Ramlilas in the city, will remain empty this time.
Arjun Kumar, general secretary of Lav Kush Ramlila Committee which organises an 11-day event every year at the Red Fort, said they have pulled out of the festivity this year.
“This is the first time in 40 years that Lav Kush Ramlila will not happen. The Delhi government issued guidelines on the festivities only on October 11 - barely five days before the beginning of Navaratri. So, it was impossible for us to plan and prepare anything in such little time,” he said.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority on October 11 issued an order allowing Navaratri and Durga Puja functions to be organised in the national Capital with limited attendees, even as it prohibited all kinds of fairs, food stalls, exhibitions, rallies and processions till October 31.
Kumar said no one wants to take any risk as such events involve big congregations, exposing a large number of people to the threat of contracting the disease.
“Our Ramlila plays involve 250 artists who do each other’s facial make-up which means coming close to each other. If by chance anyone gets the infection, all the effort of making the arrangements for 11 days will go in vain because the venue will be sealed for sanitisation for the rest of the days,” Kumar said.