COVID-19 Who? In Ayodhya, UP CM & 50 People Shift Ram Lalla Idol
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Within hours of the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines clearly stating that no religious congregation will be permitted due to the COVID-19 lockdown, in the early hours of 25 March, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath attended a religious ceremony, to move the Ram Lalla idol to a new structure – where The Quint has learnt that 50-60 people were in attendance.
Taking to Twitter, the Chief Minister wrote, “Ayodhya invites ... The first phase of the construction of the grand Ram temple was completed today, Maryada Purushottam Prabhu Sri Rama Tripala has been seated on a new pedestal. The idol of 'Ramlalla’ was moved from the temporary structure near Manas Bhawan. Presented a check of ₹ 11 lakh for the construction of the grand temple.”
This came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown in India for 21 days, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The guidelines issued after his speech, clearly specify “All places of worship shall be closed for public. No religious congregations will be permitted, without any exception.” (point 9)
At Ayodhya, Yogi Adityanath, Champat Rai and several prominent saints were present in attendance.
The Quint spoke to Mahant Satendra Das, head priest of the Ram Temple, who was present himself at the ceremonies. He said “There were two poojas. The first started around 4:15 am, where the Ram lalla who had been kept in a temporary structure, was moved by the chief minister himself to the new structure. It ended around 7:00 am. The chief minister was in attendance and at least 50-60 people. This included the district magistrate, prominent saints, security officials, members of the CM’s team, media persons and others.”
The district magistrate of Ayodhya announced on 21 March that no devotees will be allowed to enter the city from 21 March up to 2 April and, directed all lodges, hotels to cancel bookings.
The Navrati and Ram Navami celebrations in Ayodhya, which is a religious site, see lakhs of devotees flocking every year.
‘Clear Breach of Lockdown’
People on Twitter reacted to UP CM Adityanath’s prayer meet on 25 March morning, and asked him why he was flouting the lockdown.