Pilgrims entry banned in Ram Navami Mela in Ayodhya

Authorities ban entry of pilgrims in Ayodhya for Ram Navami Mela due to coronavirus scare

In the wake of coronavirus concerns, the district administration has banned the gathering of people for Ram Navami Mela in Ayodhya on April 2 for which more than 10 lakhs devotees were expected to converge, officials said.

According to Ayodhya district magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha, the administration took the decision on Saturday to not allow devotees to enter Ayodhya till April 2 and has also banned people from taking a holy dip in river Saryu.

According to seers, this will be the first time that devotees will not be allowed to take part in the traditional Ram Navami Mela. The devotees start converging in Ayodhya from the first day of Navratri festival (March 25 this year).

However, as part of precautionary measures due to Coronavirus pandemic, the administration will barricade all entry points of Ayodhya and devotees will be stopped on borders and sent back, the DM said.

The administration has also instructed owners and managers of hotels and dharamshalas to not entertain any guests and cancel any advance bookings for the period.

The administration has also banned people from taking a holy dip in river Saryu in groups till Ram Navami "as the infection spreads very swiftly", said Jha.

The district magistrate, using his special powers, passed the orders as there will be a danger of spread of the disease if such a large gathering is allowed to happen, the officials said.

"The temples will not be closed down, but devotees will not be allowed to gather there," he said.

Jha said that he has written to district magistrates in eastern Uttar Pradesh, from where a large number of devotees are expected to arrive, informing them about the decision and has asked them to restrict the movement of people from these districts.