Days after Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) decides to allow 12,000 devotees for clear Darshan, 17 employees test positive of Corona.
Owing to hazards of the pandemic, the world’s richest temple was shut its doors to the visitors for the first time in 128 years. After the Centre’s unlock 1.0, the AP government decided to reopen the shrine for its devotees. However, the entry of the devotees was limited.
TTD reopened the shrine after 80 days of lockdown initiated by the central government. The government issued guidelines easing rules and allowing the temples to be opened for public from June 8th. Trial runs were undertaken with TTD employees and their family members for the first two days. On June 10th, local devotees were allowed to visit, and the temple was open to the public on the next day. Later, 6000 devotees were allowed for Darshan. By last week of June, TTD has doubled the numbers and decided to allow nearly 12,000 devotees per day.
In tune to allowing more devotees, TTD released Quota of 2.79 lakh worth 300 Rupees special darshan tickets for the month of July. About 9,000 tickets per day along with 3,000 Sarva darshan tickets are released on a daily basis across its counters at Tirupati.
Allowing a large number of devotees raised the alarm owing to rapidly increasing cases all over the country. Adding to the fears, 17 staff members at the TTD are tested positive if COVID19 on July 5th. The TTD made the precautionary hand sensitisation and wearing of masks mandatory for devotees. Earlier, the TTD has had announced its decision to perform COVID-19 tests without fail on all the devotees. Yet, the TTD’s measures fell short in avoiding the disaster.
The Supreme Court stalled the Rath Yatra at Puri, considering the possible spread of the Coronavirus because of the mass gathering. The SC allowed only 500 devotees per each chariot, with a mandatory one hour gap between them. Also, the SC made it compulsory to test all the personnel participating in the Rath Yatra. The outrage and repercussions meted out to people after the Tabligi Jamath gathering is still fresh in people’s memory.
Similarly, allowing more devotees into Tirupati shrine is inviting a risk of catastrophic scale for the State of Andhra Pradesh. While most metro city spaces are opting for a shutdown again, the TTD seems resolute with its plans to accommodate more devotees for Darshan.