Lakhs to congregate in Ayodhya for 'Kartik Mela' bath

A Hindu priest distributes sweets as "Prasad" (holy offerings) after a prayer session inside a temple in Ayodhya, India. (Reuters Photo)

Lakhs of devotees were likely to congregate in Ayodhya for a holy dip in the sacred waters of Saryu river on the occasion of 'Kartik Purnima' on November 11 and 12 throwing the administration into a tizzy as the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid Title suits was also expected around the same time.

The lanes of Ayodhya were already filled with the devotees on Tuesday, who arrived at the temple town to undertake the '14-kosi parikrama' (covering a distance of about 40 kilometres on foot around Ayodhya).

The 'Kartik Mela', that began on Tuesday would culminate with the holy dip in Saryu river on November 12. ''Lakhs of devotees will be present in Ayodhya on the bathing dates,'' said a senior district official in Ayodhya.

The official said that large crowds of devotees were seen at Hanumangarhi, Nageshwarnath, Kanak Bhavan and other famous temples in the town on Tuesday. ''We expect the numbers to increase in the days to come,'' he added.

The district officials were alarmed by the prospect of the SC verdict in the Ayodhya case around the time.

The official said that it was always a ''huge challenge'' for the authorities to ensure that the devotees returned home after the completion of the 'mela'.

''It will be a bigger challenge this time, especially if the verdict in the case is announced around that time,'' the official said adding that the administration had geared itself to face the challenge.

It may be recalled that it was 'Kartik Purnima', when a large number of 'karsevaks' had first tried to demolish the disputed structure on November 2, 1990, in Ayodhya.

As many as 16 'karsevaks' had been killed, when the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government ordered firing on them. 

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