Banke Bihari temple
was shut “indefinitely” on Monday, just two days after it reopened its portals to the devotees. On the first day of its opening on Saturday -- also the first day of Navratri -- nearly 25,000 devotees flocked to the famous temple to get a glimpse of Lord
after over seven months.
The huge crowd posed a big challenge to
the temple committee
, which struggled to enforce social distancing norms and local police were called 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
and police to ensure security of devotees during this pandemic,” a temple notice read.
Before opening the temple, its management had issued a notice saying that only 400 devotees will be allowed in the entire day. “200 devotees will get the chance of ‘darshan’ in the first slot from 8am to 12pm. And another 200 in the next, between 5:30 pm and 9:30pm,” the notice read. Also, the committee had decided to give entry to those who come after registering themselves on the online portal http://www.shreebankeybihari.com. But, unfortunately, the website was not functional and the devotees kept on coming in hope of ‘darshan’, a senior official said.
District magistrate of
Mathura Sarvagya Ram Misra
told TOI, “A police force was deployed outside the temple for crowd management. But the turnout of devotees was huge as it was the first day of Navratri. As the online registration system was also not working, the chaos increased. We could not have taken action against the devotees as it is a matter of faith.”
“We will review the arrangements on Monday,” he added.
Devotees from far off places like Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Rajasthan reached Mathura for ‘darshan’ on Saturday, said officials.
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 will allow only those who have confirmation of a particular slot for darshan,” he said.