The month of shravan begins on July 25 this year and to prevent devotees from coming to the temple and avoid the gathering of kanwarias at the famous Baba. Baidyanath temple in Deoghar, considered one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, the district administration has erected five checkpoints, authorities said.
“Shravani mela has been canceled this year in view of the Covid-19 pandemic … Arrangements are being made for Baba Baidyanath’s virtual online darshan during Shravan,” said Deputy Commissioner Deoghar Manjunath Bhajantri.
After Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, Jharkhand is the latest to cancel kanwar yatra for devotees in the face of the pandemic.
A delegation from various religious bodies, including Panda President Dharmarakshini Sabha, members and representatives of the Teerth-Priests Society met with Deputy Commissioner, Additional Collector, Deoghar Chadra Bhushan Prasad Singh, and were briefed on the decision.
The administration has set up checkpoints at five entry points: Andhrigather, Dardmara, Khoripanan, Jaipur More and Jamua to prevent the entry of ‘jalabhishek’ devotees.
Officials said wide publicity is being made through railway officials and others to spread the message that devotees are prohibited inside the temple and ‘jalarpan’ (offering water) is not allowed.
Officials have also been asked to barricade the areas around the temple to prevent a crowd from gathering.
Before Covid-19, the mega event used to be frequented by thousands of devotees across the country who used to show up to offer prayer to Lord Shiva at the Baidyanath temple.
On June 30, the Jharkhand government extended restrictions similar to the coronavirus lockdown for the eighth time to new orders with a provision that “all religious places / places of worship may open but visitors are prohibited.”
Jharkhand Police Director General Neeraj Sinha told PTI last week: “We have deployed police forces on the Bihar and Deoghar borders to avoid congregations.”
Every year during the rainy season, devotees in many states perform kanwar yatra to collect water from the Ganges and other rivers and offer it at Lord Shiva temples in major pilgrimage centers.
Kanwarias in the eastern region sets out on a 100 km trek carrying gangue water from Sultanganj in Bihar to offer it to Lord Shiva at the Deoghar temple.
Last year, the government also withheld permission for sharavani mela and banned kanwar yatra during the national shutdown.
The Jharkhand government this year had also withheld permission for the Ratha yatra festival at the Jagannath temple in Ranchi.
The latest order from the Jharkhand disaster management department mentions: “All indoor and outdoor congregations of more than 50 people are prohibited in the state, including marriage and activities related to the last rites.”
“Also, all processions are prohibited in the state … All fairs and exhibitions are prohibited until further orders.”
Additionally, bus transportation in the state has been allowed only for intrastate movements and not for interstate movements.