A huge surge was witnessed in the number of devotees at the Gyanvapi Masjid for Friday prayers after the ‘wuzukhana’ (ablution area) in the mosque complex was sealed on the order of the Varanasi district court.
Since the footfall was beyond the mosque’s capacity, several devotees were sent back by the management committee.
SM Yaseen, joint secretary of the Anjuman Intazamiya Masjid Committee that takes care of the mosque, said that expecting a higher footfall on Friday prayer they issued an appeal on Thursday night asking devotees to refrain from visiting the mosque in large numbers.
The committee had appealed the devotees to prefer offering Friday prayers at the mosques located in their vicinities, he said, adding that they were also asked to perform wuzu (ablution) at home before coming to the Gyanvapi mosque.
“But namazis turned up in large numbers today out of curiosity. It was due to the recent developments like sealing of the wuzukhana and a recent survey of the mosque complex by a court-formed commission. The mosque has capacity to accommodate maximum 2,500 people.
We had deployed volunteers to send people back once the mosque space was full to capacity. People complied and the prayers were performed peacefully,” Yaseen said.
On other days, 200 to 500 people offer prayers in the mosque at a time but it was around 1,000 this Friday, he added. The footfall had also increased on the first Friday after Eid earlier this month.
The footfall of devotees for Friday prayers at the mosque had increased before demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya in 1992. The footfall remained high for several Fridays after demolition of that mosque.