Ayodhya: In a tussle between faith and the pandemic, the Ayodhya administration which has so far ensured low-key Navratra celebrations in compliance with Covid protocols, faces a big challenge of stemming the inflow of seers from Haridwar kumbh to Ayodhya on Ram Navami day.
As per tradition, seers from established akharas and monastic seats visit Ayodhya on Ram Navami, which falls on April 21 this year, to seek blessings of Ram Lalla. The pilgrim footfall is likely to soar on the last day of Navratra this year due to the onward journey of hundreds of devotees from Haridwar kumbh and the religious fervour over Ram temple construction.
Talking to TOI, Acharya Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, mahant of Saryu Kunj temple, Ayodhya, said, “it will be a pious moment for seers and pilgrims returning from mahakumbh to pay obeisance at Ramjanmabhoomi. Many sadhus from Ayodhya who are attending the kumbh will also return on Ram Navami. So, we expect a big congregation on Ram Navami day.”
After peaceful conduct of panchayat polls on Thursday, the Ayodhya administration is now hammering out a crowd-control strategy on Ram Navami, particularly inflow of seers from Haridwar kumbh. District magistrate A K Jha said, “No one will be allowed to enter Ayodhya on Ram Navami day without a negative RT-PCR report, not older than 48 hours. If needed, district borders will be sealed and the administration won’t allow any religious congregation.”
Fears of a pandemic surge have been compounded by the spike in Covid cases among devotees and seers in the kumbh. According to Haridwar’s chief medical officer S K Jha, at least 1,700 devotees in the Kumbh Mela area have been infected with the virus till April 14.