Ram Navami celebrated sans devotees in Karnataka temples


    Bengaluru, April 2 (IANS) Ram Navami, the birthday of Hindu deity Ram, was celebrated without devotees in hundreds of temples across Karnataka due to the 21-day lockdown enforced to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic, an official said on Thursday.

    “It’s first time ever the devotees were unable to visit Ram temples to celebrate the lord’s birthday, as the lockdown is being strictly observed across the southern state,” an official of the state muzrai (endowment) department told IANS here.

    Priests, however, offered prayers and worshipped the lord’s idol amid the chanting of hymns in the temples even in the absence of devotees.

    “The temples were advised to keep their gates closed since March 25 when the lockdown was imposed up to April 14. The celebrations, which normally lasts for 10 days, will be muted this year due to the Covid-19 outbreak fallout,” said the official.

    Though priests and a couple of their assistants were allowed to perform the rituals for invoking the lord in the sanctum sanctorum, they have been advised to maintain physical distancing and keep the temples clean with the help of servants.

    “The curfew-like situation has kept hundreds of devotees, including women and children away from our temple. The vicinity, which is usually teemed with people, vehicular traffic and shops open for buying ritual items is deserted,” a priest of the Ram temple at Rajajinagar in the city’s northwest suburb, told a local news channel.

    With police patrolling and barricades to block vehicular movement, the priests also did not make in large quantity a sweet dish offered to the lord as “prasad” for distribution to the devotee.

    “It is also the first time that we are not able to offer the lord’s ‘prasadam’ to the devotees as they are unable to visit the temple. We advised them to perform the rituals and offer ‘prasad’ to the lord at home and part take it,” the priest added,

    The 10-day Ram Navami celebrations, consisting of cultural events, rendering of the epic Ramayana and lyrics (bhajan) in praise of the lord have also been differed and will be held after complete normalcy is restored,” the official added.