Amid outbreak, nine-day Ram Navami mela remains on course
Despite advisories by the Uttar Pradesh government to avoid large religious congregations, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Ayodhya administration has not cancelled the Ram Navmi mela yet — with even the chief minister Yogi Adityanath scheduled to attend it. It is, however, keeping a close watch on the situation.
The annual festival is scheduled to start from March 25, the first day of the nine-day Hindu festival Navratra, and will continue till April 2. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to arrive in Ayodhya during the nine-day Ram Navmi fair. Every year, the mela is organised in Ayodhya and people not only from the temple town, but also from adjoining districts participate in it large numbers.
But given the public health advisories about avoiding large congregations, there is concern about the impact of a mass gathering in the town. On Tuesday, chief minister Adityanath issued an appeal to all religious gurus to prevent large gatherings in temples, mosques and other religious places. The state government has also ordered closure of all tourist places and museums till March 31.
“The situation is being monitored. Decision will be taken at an appropriate time,” said Anuj Jha, district magistrate, Ayodhya.
As per the current schedule, the chief minister will worship Ram Lalla and perform puja at the Ram Janmabhoomi on March 25. Right before the festival begins, the idol of Ram Lalla will be relocated from the makeshift temple to another location on the Ram Janmabhoomi campus on March 24 with full Vedic rituals. A platform is being constructed where the deity will be seated inside a pre-fabricated temple. The pre-fabricated temple has reached Ayodhya from New Delhi and is being assembled.
“This construction work will be over by March 18 and thereafter the pre-fabricated structure will be placed over this platform,” said Ved Prakash Gupta, BJP MLA from Ayodhya assembly constituency.
“For the shifting of Ram Lalla from the makeshift temple to the new location, priests from Kashi will also reach Ayodhya,” said Mahant Dhinendra Das, head of the Nirmohi Akhara. “Devotees will be able to worship Ram Lalla at this temporary temple from a much closer distance than the present 50 feet distance,” added Das.