With Maharashtra’s one of the biggest religious gatherings due for next month on the occasion of Ashadi Ekadashi, the state is contemplating on formulating guidelines keeping in view the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the Ashadi ceremony is bigger for the citizens of Pandharpur than Diwali, local administration has urged the government to keep the citizen’s safety in priority while formulating guidelines for the same this year. Mayor Sadhanatai Bhosale demanded devotees coming with palanquins should be asked to undergo COVID test before entering Pandharpur. This year, the State Government has suggested holding the Ashadi Yatra by bus, but the Maharaj Mandali is insisting on holding the traditional foot ceremony. The government is yet to come up with a final decision on it. Meanwhile, Mayor Bhosale has demanded only those who are vaccinated should be allowed to enter the town. The palanquins that came on Dashmi last year had returned one day after the ceremony on Dwadashi. This year, however, to please the devotees, the government has extended the two-day stay till the full moon as per tradition. However, one of the most challenging tasks would be to accommodate the devotees as most of the places for their stay have been converted to COVID Care Centres. It may be noted that Pandharpur has been highly affected by Coronavirus pandemic with nearly 28,000 people infected by the virus so far and 480 people losing their lives.