Bankey Bihari temple shut ‘indefinitely’ due to huge crowds

The famous Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan will remain shut ‘indefinitely’ from Monday, barely two days after it was reopened for devotees.

The temple had reopened on Saturday, the first day of ‘Navratri’, after a seven-month closure due to the lockdown. More than 25,000 devotees turned up to offer prayers at the famous temple.

Before opening the temple, its management had issued a notice saying that only 400 devotees will be allowed in a day.

“200 devotees will get the chance of “darshan” in the first slot from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Another 200 devotees will be allowed in the next shift between 5.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m.,” the notice read.

The committee had also decided to give entry to those who come after registering themselves on the online portal.

The huge crowd that had gathered when the temple reopened, posed a major challenge to the temple committee, which failed to enforce social distancing norms and the local police were called in for help.

Amid allegations of ‘mismanagement’, the committee decided to shut the doors for a course correction.

“The temple will remain shut for devotees from October 19 till further orders. It will reopen for ‘darshan’ of Lord Krishna after proper coordination with the district administration and police to ensure security of devotees during this pandemic,” a temple management said in a notice.

According to Mathura District Magistrate, Sarvagya Ram Mishra, “Police were deployed outside the temple for crowd management but the turnout of devotees was huge as it was the first day of Navratri. The online registration system was also not working and the chaos increased. We could not have taken action against the devotees as it is a matter of faith.”

Devotees from far off places like Chandigarh, Gujarat, Delhi, Maharashtra and Rajasthan had reached Mathura for ‘darshan’ on Saturday.

A senior police officer said that once the online registration system is in place, it will be easy to control the crowd.

“Then the temple officials can allow only those who have confirmation of a particular slot for darshan,” he said.