Ayodhya’s crowd-pulling mela stays on schedule amid coronavirus worries
Ayodhya district magistrate Anuj Jha, and other officials, met chairman of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra trust, Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, on Thursday and apprised him of the emergency arising because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The meeting took place in the backdrop of speculations that the Navratri/Ram Navami Mela celebrations in Ayodhya (March 25-April 2) may be cancelled or scaled down.
However, till late on Thursday, there was no official confirmation about cancellation of the festivities.
On Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath urged people to resort to social distancing and perform religious rituals at home. Adityanath also asked residents to avoid crowding in view of the forthcoming Chaitra Navratri, when people visit temples for ‘darshan’ and fairs are organised in different districts. An official spokesman said the chief minister had issued the directives to ensure that crowds did not assemble at religious places.
In a bid to dissuade devotees from visiting Ayodhya during Ram Navmi, the Ayodhya administration is planning to arrange live telecast of the aarti of Ram Lalla at Ram Janmabhoomi.
“We are planning to telecast the aarti live from Ram Janmabhoomi this Ram Navmi so that devotees can see the event from home,” Jha told reporters.
On scaling down or cancellation of the Ram Navmi celebrations in Ayodhya, Jha said: “An appropriate decision will be taken at an appropriate time.”
Das has ruled out cancellation of the Ram Navmi celebrations.
Several lakh people are expected to converge on Ayodhya during the nine-day Hindu festival of Chaitra Navratri/Ram Navmi. People have already started arriving in the temple town.
The idol of Ram Lalla will be shifted from the makeshift temple to another location on the Ram Janmabhoomi campus early on March 25 in the presence of chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other trust members, said Dr Anil Mishra, a member of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra.
The idol will be relocated to a temporary temple in a pre-fabricated structure placed on a platform. “Ram Lalla’s relocation after 28 years (demolition of Babri Mosque) is a historic moment. We are expecting devotees in large numbers at Ram Janmabhoomi to see the deity at the new location,” said a prominent saint of Ayodhya.
“We cannot stop anyone from coming to Ram Janmabhoomi. It is up to the state government and Ayodhya administration to take any decision,” he added.
When asked to comment on the situation, Satyendra Das, head priest of the makeshift Ram Janmabhoomi temple, said: “The Ayodhya administration and the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra trust is looking after all preparations related to Ram Navmi celebrations and events at Ram Janmabhoomi.”
Faizabad (Ayodhya) divisional commissioner Manoj Mishra said the district magistrate of Ayodhya was responsible for initiating concrete measures in wake of the coronavirus outbreak and efforts were on in this regard at his level.