Muted Janmashtami celebrations at Delhi temples

In the absence of any visitors, religious places, including the Kalkaji temple, Chhatarpur temple and Birla Mandir here, have scaled down the celebrations in terms of programmes and decorations, focusing only on the rituals that mark the birth of lord Krishna

Delhi will see muted Janmashtami celebrations this year with devotees not being allowed to visit religious places as part of the preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In the absence of any visitors, religious places, including the Kalkaji temple, the Chhatarpur temple and the Birla Mandir here, have scaled down the celebrations in terms of programmes and decorations, focussing only on the rituals that mark the birth of Hindu god Krishna.

The decoration and lighting at the Kalkaji temple are not very different from the pre-pandemic times, but Surendra Nath, the chief priest of the temple, said the lack of devotees completely alters the spirit of the festival.

“The decoration and the lighting are more or less the same but earlier, we used to have bhajans and kirtans throughout the day for the devotees. That will not happen this time.

“We urge the government to allow the temples to open to the public, especially when everything else in the city has reopened. So many festivals have passed like this…Shivratri, now Janmashthami. We just hope the upcoming Navratris are not celebrated in the same manner,” he said.

The rituals at the temple that used to host thousands of visitors on Janmashtami will only be attended by the priests.

The arrangements at the Chhatarpur temple are not very different.

The festival that used to witness a footfall of as many as two lakh people will be celebrated this year in the presence of a handful of individuals, including the temple trustees and priests.

“We have tried to keep the celebrations as similar as possible to the ones before the pandemic, because it is god’s birthday. The temple has been lit up, and a silver swing and gold ornaments have been arranged for the deity,” CEO of the Chattarpur temple Kishor Chawla said.

He added that the main Janmashtami rituals will begin at around 11:30 pm on Monday and continue till the early hours of Tuesday.

To ensure that the devotees do not miss out on the celebrations, the Birla Mandir has decided to livestream the rituals that began at noon on Monday and will continue till 2 am on Tuesday.

The temple, however, has cut back on decoration.

“The façade of the temple will not be decorated because there won’t be anyone to see it. Only the area where the idol is placed has been decorated.

“We will have paath, bhajan, kirtan throughout the day that will be livestreamed on our Facebook page — Sri Birla Mandir. Around midnight, the maha abhishek — bathing and dressing up the idol — will happen, followed by the maha aarti,” said Ram Gopal Shukla, media-uncharge, Birla Mandir.

In order to prevent a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Delhi Police requested people on Sunday not to visit temples and to celebrate Janmashtami at home.

Delhi recorded 31 fresh Covid cases on Sunday.

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