Ayodhya to hold Ram Navami mela despite COVID-19 fears

Coronavirus: Ayodhya to hold Ram Navami mela despite COVID-19 fears

In an apparent bid to avoid a 'Hindu' backlash, especially, when the next assembly polls in the state are due in two years times, the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has given a go-ahead for the 'Ram Navami Mela' in Ayodhya dismissing concerns against its own advisories against large gatherings in view of the Coronavirus outbreak.

According to some estimates, around one million devotees from across the country would be congregating in Ayodhya to take part in the 'Mela, which would be held from March 25 to April Two. 

Although the 'Mela' always attracted huge crowds of devotees, this time it has acquired special significance as it was the first such event after the supreme court verdict giving the disputed land to the Hindu litigants for Ram Temple construction.

The chief medical officer of Ayodhya had asked the government to cancel the event in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. ''We simply do not have the necessary resources to screen such a large number of people,'' CMO Ghanshyam Singh had said.

The district administration, however, not only dismissed the concerns but claimed that the CMO had never made such comments.

District officials said that they were certain that the 'Mela' would be held as scheduled without any problems. ''We have made all necessary arrangements,'' said an official in Ayodhya.

He said that the administration would make sure that all precautions were taken and the devotees would also be apprised of the 'does and don'ts'. The official also said that the administration expected the devotees to wear masks.

The saint community in Ayodhya also appeared to be against banning the 'Mela'.

''It (Mela) can not be stopped...it will hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus....and this year it is more important...for the first time Lord Rama is free,'' said Mahant Paramhans, an Ayodhya based saint.

He also said that the seers were organising 'yajna' (Hindu religious rituals by fire) for the safe conclusion of the 'Mela'. "Ramji (Lord Rama) will make sure that no harm comes to the devotees,'' he added.

The district administration was mulling live telecast of 'Ramlala' (the idol of Lord Rama) through Doordarshan in a bid to discourage the devotees to flock Ayodhya.

Although the opposition parties were also maintaining a silence on the issue apparently not wanting to incur the wrath of the majority community, the political analysts opined that electoral compulsions might have forced the BJP government to allow the 'Mela'.

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