LUCKNOW: Possibly for the first time in the history of the temple town of Ayodhya, Ram Navami, the birthday of Lord Ram, remained a quiet and sombre affair. Temples were empty, streets deserted and banks of the Saryu desolate on Thursday thanks to the ongoing 21-day lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Following CM Yogi Adityanath's appeal to keep the celebrations of Ram Navami a
low-key homely affair, the temple town was silent with the sound of a few bells
tolling in temples here and there.
"What an irony. When we got the chance to celebrate Ram Navami like never before after the court driven settlement of Ram Janmabhoomi dispute, the coronascare played spoilsport,” said Mahant Satyendra Das, the head priest of the temple at the Ram Janmbhoomi premises.
Notably, the idol of Lord Ram, residing in a makeshift temple in a tent since 1992, was relocated to the new bullet-proof fibre temple at a new location on the premises a week back on the first day of Chaitra Navrati.
At his new abode, the priests along with some local members of Shree Ram Teerth
Kshetra Trust, including general secretary Champat Rai, trustees Dr Anil Mishra and Vimalendra Mohan Pratap Mishra, a descendant of the Ayodhya royal family,
performed the rituals to mark the birth of the deity.
Meanwhile, all roads leading to Ram Janmabhoomi passing through the revered Hanuman Garhi Peeth, Dashrath Mahal and Kanak Mahal remained empty. All Prasad shops were also closed. Kanak Bhawan, which used to be the centre of attraction on Ram Navami, had hardly any devotee. Only priests performed the rituals on the occasion.
Ayodhya Circle Officer Amar Singh said, "There used to be a congregation of around 40,000-50,000 devotees in and around Kanak Bhawan alone and lakhs in Ayodhya, but his year due to the lockdown, no one has been allowed entry.”
As per the common belief, Kanak Bhawan was gifted to Goddess Sita by Queen Kaikayee when the latter came to Ayodhya after marriage. It is believed that in
Kanak Bhawan, Lord Ram takes off his mantle as the king of Ayodhya and resides with his wife Sita as a common man.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Ayodhya city, Arvind Chaurasia, "Unlike normal times, this year we have ensured that no one gets entry into the temple town on Ram Navami due to the lockdown. We have been enforcing the restrictions strictly. Earlier, we used to see a flood of devotees thronging the temple town to pay obeisance to the deity but this year, we have restricted the inflow with all our might to help check the spread of the deadly virus.”
Similarly, the banks of the Saryu, which used to bustle with activity on Ram Navami, were totally silent. As per Mahant Jugal Kishore Sharan Shastry of Saryu Kunj temple, even the seers were avoiding visiting temples. “They are relegated to their ashrams,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ayodhya administration had put barricades across the temple town to restrict pepole’s entry and also movement in the city. "We have to ensure
compliance with the lockdown in letter and spirit,” said Ayodhya DM Anuj Jha.
The revered shrine of Gorakshnath Peeth too cancelled the age-old tradition of performing ‘Kanya Poojan’ on the concluding day of Navratri. CM Yogi Adtiyanath, who is also the chief Mahant of Gorakshnath Peeth and used to perform the ritual, cancelled it this year.