By Deepika Rathour Chauhan
New Delhi [India], August 11 (ANI): The ISKCON temple has restricted the entry of people on Janmashtami this year in order to ensure physical distancing to prevent COVID-19, unlike previous years when a large number of devotees used to come, said vice president of ISKCON, Vrajender Nandan Das.
The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has urged devotees to do online live darshan, read the Gita and sing bhajans to celebrate Janmasthami at home, Das said. No public darshan is allowed on Janmashtami at ISKCON, Delhi.
The celebration at the ISKCON temple will be low profile this year, said Das. He said, "The temple is closed to the general public. Only invitees will be allowed tomorrow. Entry will be open from gate number 4 only while the other gates will remain closed. Even security guards have been deployed to ensure social distancing and marking has been done. Sanitiser machines and tunnel have been installed at the entry and other places on the temple premises. About 2,000 to 3,000 people are expected at the temple tomorrow."
"Private security guards have been deployed. Although aarti and darshan will be open throughout the day, people will not be allowed to gather at one spot," he said.
Explaining the arrangements, Das said, "People will not be allowed to gather for the Maha Abhishek which will start around 10 pm tomorrow. They will do darshan and move toward the exit gate."
He said the Maha bhog will be of 501 items this time, which used to be 1,001 items earlier. "We have also changed the prasad system. Earlier, we used to serve prasad inclusive of Thandai and other prasad to 20,000 people at one time but now, we will give them dry prasad in sealed packets," Das said.
ISKON authorities used to bring flowers from abroad to decorate the Bhawan and idols but this time, they are using flowers grown in India. The celebration will not have Jhanki and Leela programmes this year, Das told ANI.
Das also informed that just like Indian devotees, international devotees are not allowed to attend the celebration. He said, "They have returned to their places in the lockdown. Our guest houses and Govinda restaurant are also closed." (ANI)