Even though a large part of the state is in a shutdown mode owing to the COVID-19 scare, the Yogi Adityanath government is in no mood to tone down the Ram Navmi celebrations which are special this year due to the Supreme Court verdict in favour of Ram temple.
The Ram Navmi Mela is scheduled to begin in Ayodhya on March 25 and will conclude on Hanuman Jayanti on April 8.
The state government has banned large gatherings and issued an advisory against a congregation of more than 50 people but there is still no word on the Ram Navmi celebrations.
The Yogi government is apparently in no mood to let the opportunity of mega celebrations slip away in Ayodhya.
However, the VHP, on its own, has decided not to take out Shobha Yatras and Rath Yatras that attract lakhs of devotees.
VHP organizational secretary, Ambrish, said that though no processions will be taken out, celebrations will be held as scheduled.
“Postponing the event is not an option,” he said.
He said that meetings of small groups will be held in colonies and villages where leaders will speak about the Ram Janambhoomi movement, role of kar sewaks and will also honour the kar sewaks. Aartis will also be performed in small groups.
However, he did not say how small the groups will be.
VHP volunteers will go to villages and ensure the saffron flag flies atop the houses of Hindus and also encourage them to conduct religious ceremonies during the celebratory period.
Stickers and pictures of the Ram temple model shall be distributed to households for display.
Interestingly, while the state government maintains a studied silence on the scale of celebrations, the Ayodhya chief medical officer has raised concerns about the implications of a huge crowd gathering at one place in the prevailing circumstances.
Ayodhya chief medical officer Ghanshyam Singh said, “Since it has been advised by the Chief Minister to avoid all gatherings, we are talking to the administrative brass on the threat and risk in holding the Ram Navami Mela this year.”
He said that it would be impossible to screen a gathering of lakhs of devotees coming to the event.
Another medical official further pointed out that it would not be possible to provide masks to all devotees to prevent the virus infection from spreading.
District Magistrate Anuj Jha, however, ruled out the possibility of cancelling the event.
“We will take all precautions, issue advisory to the devotees but there is no talk of canceling the event,” he said.
On March 25, the first day of the Chaitra (first month of Hindu calendar) Navratri, the Ram idol will be established inside a bullet-proof, water-proof fibre glass structure that will be 21 feet in length and 15 feet in width.
The Ram Navmi Mela, a traditional annual event in Ayodhya, will kick off the same day.
On the night of Ram Navmi, the birth of Ram is celebrated at decorated temples. Devotees take a dip in the Saryu and aarti and puja follow.