Temples in Delhi opting for restricted 'darshan' facilities for devotees during Navratri

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New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) Amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases, major temples in Delhi have decided on restricted 'darshan' facilities for devotees with some of the shrines offering e-passes during the Navratri that begins on Tuesday.

During the nine-day festival, temples in Delhi, including the ones at Chattarpur, Kalkaji and Jhandewalan, are flooded with fasting devotees.

This year, however, will be different with the temples either allowing a 'carefully-controlled' process of 'darshan' (a glimpse of the deity) for the devotees, or remaining shut during the nine days.

Delhi recorded its biggest daily jump of 10,774 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the tally to 7,25,197. Forty-eight more fatalities pushed the death toll due to the viral disease in the national capital to 11,283, according to the health department.

The government prohibited all religious gatherings last week in view of the current situation.

To make it to the Kalkaji temple located opposite the Nehru Place business centre, the devotees will be required to download e-passes from the temple website.

This, a temple spokesperson said, would help the authorities manage the crowd.

'We will be following the social-distancing norm and all other measures in accordance with the government guidelines to ensure the safety of the visitors.

'We have requested the devotees to get COVID-19 tests done before coming to the temple and insisted that those above 60 years of age should not come. Every devotee visiting the temple also needs to carry an e-pass. All of this put together will help us control the crowd,' Surendranath Avadhoot, the mahout at the temple, said.

To ensure the safety of the visitors through proper social distancing, he said people would be allowed within the temple premises only in groups of 25.

The Jhandewalan temple near Karol Bagh will remain shut during the nine- day festival.

'The number of devotees goes as high as 60,000 per day during the Navratri and under the current circumstances, we have decided to keep the temple closed in public interest.

'We have been maintaining the two-yard distance between people as instructed by the government. During the Navratri, when the number of devotees increases by multiple times, we might still be able to control those in the queue, but how would we control those who gather outside the temple? That will only lead to a mismanagement of the crowd,' Kulbhushan Ahuja, general secretary, Jhandewalan temple, said.

However, for the sake of the devotees, the temple authorities will showcase the rituals on social media.

'Pujas would be performed in the temple in the morning as well as in the evening and it would be telecast on our YouTube channel,' Ahuja said.

The Chattarpur temple that used to receive 'lakhs of visitors' every day during Navratri before the pandemic hit the country will also remain closed.

'The temple will remain closed for the public from Tuesday till the last day of the Navratri. The puja will be performed by the priests, the only people who will be allowed inside the temple during this time,' the CEO of the temple said.

'The puja proceedings will be telecast on our Youtube channel and there will also be Facebook live. The links to these can be accessed on the temple website,' he added. PTI TRS RC