Janmashtami 2020: Janmashtami celebrations go virtual amid Covid-19
The Covid-19 pandemic is changing the way, major festivals are being celebrated. Shri Krishna Janmashtami will also take a virtual route this year. Janmashtami celebrations witness lakhs of devotees visit various temples to offer their prayers and seek blessings. However, this year temples are going to follow strict social distancing guidelines and devotees will be able to join the celebrations from their homes - virtually.
Archit Das, Director, Iskcon (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness ), Dwarka, says” Every year there are more than five lakh people who visit the temple on Janmashtami but this year, we might only witness 5000-10,000 people. They have to book their appointments in advance for darshan. We will be keeping all the guidelines for social distancing in place. Circles will be made from our main entrance for people to stand in queues and hand touch sanitisers have been installed as well. Also, not more than 40 people will be allowed inside the temple and per person, only 30 seconds will be allotted for darshan.”
Adding that this year no marquees will be set up, he says, “Only the ‘Abhishek’ will be on a grand scale and we will be live streaming it on our Youtube channel for everyone. Everything will be live streamed that day for 24 hours.”
Celebrations will be low-key in many temples this year due to the pandemic. Dance and cultural performances, which used to take place every year, are not happening this time on the main day.
“We are not inviting many people, only one gate will be opened for entry and it is mandatory for people to wear a mask. We have also set up a sanitiser chamber; people will have to go through it first to ensure the safety protocols. This year the celebration will be restricted to only the temple hall, we are not setting up ‘jhanikiya’ ( tableaux) or any big ‘pandals’,” says Vrajendranandan Das, director communications, Iskcon East of Kailash.
Devotees who will not be able to visit the temple for darshan but can witness everything live, virtually.
“Maha Abhishek will take place at 10.p.m which will be till midnight followed by a maha aarti at 12.30 a.m. and at 1 a.m. the temple will be closed. All of this will be telecasted live as well as on our Youtube channel and our Hare Krishna TV for all those who cannot visit the temples for darshan on the day,” he adds.
Janmashtami celebrations in Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh witnesses influx of devotees from across the world. This year due to the pandemic, no public events will be held. The Iskcon temple in Vrindavan is holding a virtual event to keep the festive vibes alive among the people.
Saurabh Trivikram, Director, communications, Iskcon Vrindavan, says, “We will be celebrating Janmashtami virtually this year. Our programme will mainly start at 10 p.m with ‘Abhishek’, throughout the day we will be virtually available on zoom as well, so if anyone wants to join that, they can contact us and we will be providing the links. There will be all day long bhajans and kirtans in the temple hall only. This year due to the pandemic,no performances will be happening. There will be no dance festival this year.”