Mathura, Aug 24 (PTI) Every year, lakhs of devotees across Uttar Pradesh's Mathura throng temples to offer prayers and religious fervour grips the district on the occasion of Radha Ashtami.
However, a subdued festival looms this year as the district administration has decided not to allow entry of devotees in temples on the occasion of Radha Ashtami, which falls on August 26, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'The step has been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as it would be next to impossible to ensure social distancing between several lakhs of devotees attending a programme in noted temples of Brijbhumi,' District Magistrate Sarvagya Ram Mishra said.
Most of the temples have been closed for devotees since the lockdown was imposed in March. Their entry into temples will remain suspended on Radha Ashtami this year, he said.
The borders of Mathura will be sealed on Monday to prevent the entry of pilgrims into the district, he added.
Low-key celebrations will be held inside temples, according to Mishra.
The annual Radha Ashtami fair held in Rawal village, considered the birthplace of Radha -- the consort of Lord Krishna, has also been cancelled this year, the district magistrate said.
In Mathura's Barsana, Radha Ashtami celebrations at the Ladli temple are among some of the most popular events.
At a few temples in Vrindavan, Radha Ashtami is celebrated like Holi.
Devotees and priests drench each other with a mixture of curd and turmeric powder at the ancient Radha Damodar temple.
Temple priest Krishna Balram Goshwami said devotees also compete with each other to grab toys, sweets, utensils and clothes, etc. tossed in the air as part of the celebrations.
However, all this won't be possible this year as the temple will remain closed, he said. PTI CORR DIV DIV