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Watch: Covid rules go for a toss as thousands converge at UP’s Banke Bihari Temple to celebrate Holi

With a fresh Covid-19 surge feared during the festive season, the Uttar Pradesh government had last week issued directions for “aggressive Covid tests” at airports, bus stations and railway stations and banned processions without permission.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 29, 2021 1:45:21 pm
Holi, Covid-19Deputy Commissioner Tarn Taran Kulwant Singh said: “I am aware of the party. But I haven’t written anything about it. I have come to know that explanation has been sought at state level.”

Even as state governments issued new guidelines prohibiting mass gatherings during the Holi festival amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases, thousands converged at the Banke Bihari Temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Vrindavan to celebrate the festival.

In a video tweeted by news agency ANI, thousands of devotees, without facemasks, were seen thronging the famous Mathura temple while tossing colours in the air.

Interestingly, priests are heard requesting the sea of crowd to back away from the temple entrance.

Similar visuals have emerged from Lucknow and Prayagraj as well.

In Etawah district, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav and other party workers celebrated Holi with flower petals.

Amid fears of a fresh Covid-19 surge during the festive season, the Uttar Pradesh government had last week issued directions for “aggressive Covid tests” at airports, bus stations and railway stations, and said the Covid-19 vaccination drive would be intensified.

All kinds of processions have also been banned during the festive season in the state without the administration’s permission. If permission is granted, all those involved will have to follow the basic Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing face masks and using sanitisers. Further, those above 60 years or younger than 10, and people with co-morbidities will not be allowed to participate in any gathering.

Amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in some parts of the country, the Centre had on Wednesday asked states and union territories to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of the upcoming festivals and limit or do away with mass gatherings for effective control of the pandemic.

“…in view of upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, Bihu, Easter and Eid-ul-Fitr, etc., it is strongly advised that states may consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of these festivals and limit/do away with mass gatherings in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005,” Additional Secretary in the Health Ministry Arti Ahuja, in a letter to state chief secretaries and union territory administrators, stated.

In a similar event last Monday, thousands of people, most of them without facemasks, gathered at the Shri Radha Rani temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura to celebrate ‘Laddu maar Holi’.

Another event in Mathura saw women beating men with sticks as part of ‘Lathmar Holi’ celebrations in Barsana on Sunday.

Besides Uttar Pradesh, several states and UTs like Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chandigarh have imposed strict restrictions on all sorts of activities related to the Holi festival.

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