COVID shadow looms over temple festival

Bhadrachalam temple awaits decision on devotee participation

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases in some parts of the neighbouring States amid fears over a second wave of the pandemic has cast a shadow on the grand plans of the authorities to conduct Sri Sitarama Tiru Kalyana Mahotsavam at the historic Sri Sitaramachandra Swamy temple in Bhadrachalam on an elaborate scale on April 21.

The annual fete of the “celestial wedding” attracts hordes of devotees from different corners of the State as well as neighbouring States, including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, on the occasion of Sri Rama Navami every year.

Last year, the pandemic has taken sheen off the mega religious event as the celestial wedding was performed inside the temple complex in a “low-key” manner, keeping it out of bounds for devotees, to stem the spread of coronavirus.

At a high-level meeting presided over by Collector M. V. Reddy in Kothagudem in February this year, an elaborate action plan was mooted to conduct the celestial wedding in a befitting manner in conformity to the COVID-19 safety norms at the historic shrine on April 21.

The meeting also chalked out arrangements to provide all necessary amenities to devotees who are expected to throng the temple town in large numbers during the ensuing Sri Rama Navami fete.

The online sale of sector-wise tickets for Sri Sitarama Tiru Kalyana Mahotsavam and Maha Pattabishekam, slated for April 21 and 22 respectively, had already begun through the temple website www.bhadrachalamonline.com.

The sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the neighbouring States has left the authorities perplexed over the imminent tough task of implementing the COVID-19 safety protocols during the ensuing mega religious congregation.

The Vasantha Paksha Tiru Kalyana Brahmotsavams is slated to be held in the famous temple, dating back to the 17th Century, from April 13 to 27.

“We are making all necessary arrangements to conduct the annual religious fete as per the schedule,” Executive Officer of the Sri Sitaramachandra Swamy temple at Bhadrachalam Sivaji said.

When asked about the venue of the ensuing “celestial wedding”, he told The Hindu that they were awaiting the final nod from the State government on this.

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