March 29, 2021 8:20:36 pm
On the occasion of the Tukaram Beej ceremony in the temple town of Dehu near Pune — which is attended by lakhs of devotees from across Maharashtra — only 50 persons will be allowed on the premises of Sant Tukaram Maharaj Devsthan on March 30 this year, Pimpri-Chinchwad Police have said.
Police had earlier declared a curfew in Dehu and surrounding areas from Sunday morning till midnight of March 30, due to rising Covid-19 cases.
The Tukaram Beej ceremony is observed every year to mark the day on which, devotees believe, saint-poet Tukaram, during his last keertan (sermon), left for heavenly abode. The ceremony is important for the Warkari sect in Maharashtra, and is usually attended by 3 to 5 lakh devotees every year. Last year, the ceremony was observed with restrictions due to the lockdown at the time.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Police, under whose jurisdiction the temple town of Dehu falls, issued a statement on Sunday in the backdrop of a statement made by a Warkari sect leader, Bandatatya Karadkar, asking devotees to come to Dehu in large numbers.
“The Pune district collector has issued an order that… the Tukaram Beej ceremony will be marked in symbolic manner and only 50 persons will be allowed to be in attendance,” stated the police.
The statement, which has been issued by Anand Bhoite, deputy commissioner of police for Special Branch of Pimpri-Chinchwad Police, added, “Senior Warkari sect leader Bandatatya Karadkar recently made an appeal on social media and in interviews, asking devotees to come to Dehu. This has created confusion. If warkaris come to Dehu in large numbers, there will be a possibility of fast spread of Covid-19 due to that congregation… the Pimpri-Chinchwad police commissioner has been in dialogue with senior leaders of the Warkari sect and has convinced them of serious consequences if devotees gather in large numbers.”
Bhoite further said, “As part of the process, a meeting of senior leaders of the sect was held at Pimpri-Chinchwad police commissionerate, where they assured that the call by Bandatatya Karadkar will not be supported. A curfew has been ordered in Dehu, Vitthalwadi, Malwadi, Yelwadi and Bhandara Dongar areas from Sunday morning till the midnight of March 30.”
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