Temples crowded during Shravan; many injured in Ujjain stampede

Though officially shut, several temples witness massive rush of devotees in violation of COVID norms

Many temples witnessed massive rush of devotees during the first day 'puja' of Shravan month.

The first Monday in the Hindu holy month of Shravan led to massive crowds at temples where many devotees were seen violating COVID norms at various places in north India, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, media reports said.

In Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain Mahakaleshwar Siva temple, several devotees were injured on Monday (July 25) following a stampede-like situation. A video of the incident, in which the devotees can be seen trying to rush inside the temple, went viral.

The crowd was seen jostling and pushing against each other in a bid to enter the temple. Several tumbled down and others fell over them leading to one of the barricade gates getting damaged, an MP government official said.

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“Around 8:30 am, many people tried to enter for darshan and in the process, broke the barricade at gate number four of the temple complex. After the barricade broke, several people tried to run towards the main deity, but there was no untoward incident,” the temple’s assistant administrator Moolchand Joonwal told PTI.

“Since it was the first Monday of the holy month of Shravan, people were allowed to stand in queues for darshan apart from pre-booking. However, the crowd that turned up was much larger than what we expected,” he said.

Eyewitnesses said social distancing and other COVID norms were violated as people queued up outside the temple, media reports said.

In UP’s Agra, despite the cancellation of Agra’s traditional fairs this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Taj city’s Rajeshwar Mahadev temple attracted a large crowd. Every year, Agra follows the tradition of organising four fairs, in four Shiva temples of the district, on all four Mondays of the Shravan month. But in the wake of the pandemic restrictions, the fairs were called off this year.

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“All four melas organised on four Mondays of the holy month are called off in compliance with COVID-19 pandemic guidelines,” stated Dr Prabha Kant Awasthi, the additional district magistrate (ADM) Agra city.

In Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur, a rush of devotees was witnessed at various temples, though most of the people in the state capital Ranchi performed the rituals at their homes as most Shiva temples remained shut. The Pahari Mandir officials in Ranchi, which usually sees thousands of devotees during Shravan, have made arrangements for online ‘puja’ and ‘rudrabhishek; for devotees.

While the temple gates remained closed, many devotees – without wearing masks – came in from other entrances and made offerings at Pahari Mandir temple.

The UP and Uttarakhand governments have already banned ‘kanwar yatra’ as a measure to prevent pandemic infection.