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Covid-19: No Navratri festival in Ayodhya, Ram Navmi mela scrapped

Amid rising cases of coronavirus in the country, the Mani Ram Das Chhavni Peeth, the ashram from where the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas operates in Ayodhya, on Saturday appealed to devotees not to come to the town for the Navratri festival and announced scrapping of the Ram Navmi mela on April 2.

During the nine-day long Navratri from March 25 to April 2 and Ram Navmi mela (April 2), around 15 lakh devotees come to Ayodhya from all across the state, especially adjoining districts. Uttar Pradesh has so far recorded 33 positive cases of coronavirus.

Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra, heads this Peeth. His heir Kamal Nayan Das told reporters that there is no need for devotees to show up at Ayodhya for Navratri.

“There is no need to come to Ayodhya on Navratri in view of outbreak of disease (coronavirus). We must celebrate the festival with full festive fervor in our respective homes,” Mahant Kamal Nayan Das said.

“There is no need to organise Ram Navmi mela in Ayodhya in larger interest of devotees. We must celebrate Ram Navmi in our homes. There is a national crisis and nation’s safety comes first and we must support the government to fight the disease,” Kamal Nayan added.

This appeal has come as a breather for the Ayodhya administration which had advocated postponing Ram Navmi mela.

In view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for ‘Janta Curfew’ on March 22 to check outbreak of coronavirus, the special puja ceremony at the Ram Janmabhoomi on Sunday has also been postponed.

Now, this two-day ceremony will start from March 23. This special puja is being performed before the deity of Ram Lalla is shifted from the makeshift temple at Ram Janmabhoomi to another a pre-fabricated temple in the same premises on early on March 25, first day of Navratri.

However, there will be no participation of public in these rituals and shifting of Ram Lalla also will not be a public event.

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath is likely to be in Ayodhya on March 25 for shifting of the deity.

Earlier in the day, general secretary of Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Tirath Kshetra trust Champat Rai also issued an appeal to people to celebrate Navratri in their homes instead of coming to Ayodhya.

Anuj Jha, district magistrate of Ayodhya, released a video of Rai on Saturday morning in which the VHP leader is requesting devotees to avoid coming to Ayodhya Navratri.

“We are celebrating Navratri for centuries and in future also this festival will be celebrated. But in this hour of crisis we must help the government to fight this threatening disease (coronavirus),” Rai told reporters in Ayodhya.

“The entire country is fighting to avoid this disease. We must support the government and remain vigilant. In such a situation we must perform puja in our homes instead of coming out,” said Rai.

Rai is also international vice president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

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