Lord Venkateswara shrine to begin darshan rehearsal on June 8

Tirupati, June 2 (PTI): The famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala here is gearing up to lift its over two month long COVID-19 lockdown ban on devotees' entry as it will conduct rehearsals of darshan for its staff for two or three days from June 8 with strict protective measures.

'Very strictly observing all COVID-19 precautionary measures, including maintaining six feet distance from person to person, a few hundred temple staff, TTD board members and other officials attached to the shrine will be permitted into the shrine for two or three days,' Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Board Chairman Y V Subba Reddy told PTI.

As part of it, elaborate COVID-19 safety arrangements were being made on the entire hills and inside the huge temple complex too, he said.

Once temple officials were satisfied with the trial runs, devotees would be allowed entry to the sacred hills, the TTD chairman said, adding that online tickets would be immediately made available for purchase.

Those who arrive unknowingly without such tickets will have to register their personal details with official proof at the entrance of the Hills, called 'Alipiri', and accordingly they would be given time-slot free darshan slips, he said.

'During the COVID-19 lockdown, daily rituals and other traditional practices are being conducted by the priests as usual to the presiding deity of Lord Venkateswara at the over 2000-year-old hill shrine,' he said.

In the wake of the Coronavirus scare, devotees' entry to the Tirumala Hills, that normally attracts thousands from across the world, was temprararily banned on March 20, a temple official said.

However the ban continued following the nationwide lockdown announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24, he said. PTI COR APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH