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Ayodhya administration likely to ban religious gathering in temple town

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Ayodhya, Apr 15: The authorities here are bracing themselves for the arrival of a large number of seers on Ram Navami after participating in the Haridwar Kumbh, and an official said a ban on religious gatherings cannot be ruled out to prevent a COVID-19 spike.

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The administration could also consider banning the entry of visitors without a negative RT-PCR report, not older than 48 hours, according to District Magistrate AK Jha. "If required", the boundaries of Ayodhya will be sealed and the administration will not allow any religious congregation on Ram Navami in Ayodhya, Jha said.

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According to tradition, seers from all religious seats in the country visit Ayodhya every year to celebrate Ram Navami. The city is likely to witness a tussle between faith and pandemic this year as a large number of saints returning from the Haridwar Kumbh are expected to visit Ayodhya on April 21 to celebrate Ram Navami, point out Ayodhya-based seers.

"It will be a very pious moment to visit Ayodhya after taking part in the Kumbh at Haridwar. Many seers from Ayodhya too have gone to Haridwar to take part in Kumbh and they too will return on Ram Navami," Acharya Yugal Kishore Sharan Shastri, the Mahant of Saryu Kunj temple in Ayodhya, told reporters.

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This exposes the temple town to the risk of a spurt in coronavirus cases after the Ram Navami as the number of COVID positive among devotees and seers attending Kumbh has reached over 1,700, confirming fears that one of the world's largest religious gatherings may turn out to be a super spreader.

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