Only 50 people would be allowed inside Sant Tukaram Maharaj Devsthan in Dehu to witness the Tukaram Beej ceremony this year, the Pimpri Chinchwad Police said on Sunday. A curfew has been imposed in the temple town near Pune from Sunday morning till midnight of March 30 amid rising Covid-19 cases.
Under normal circumstances, lakhs of devotees, most of them from the Warkari sect, vist the temple every year to mark the Beej ceremony. Devotees believe that Saint-Poet Tukaram left for his heavenly abode on this day during his last keertan (sermon).
Last year too, the ceremony was observed with restrictions due to the lockdown.
The Pimpri Chinchwad Police, under whose jurisdiction the temple town of Dehu falls, announced the restrictions after one of Warkari sects leaders, Bandatatya Karadkar, asked devotees to come to Dehu in large numbers.
“Pune District Collector has issued an order that on the backdrop of rising COVID cases, the Tukaram Beej ceremony will be marked in symbolic manner and only 50 persons will be allowed to be in attendance,” the police said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Anand Bhoite further said, “Senior Warkari Sect leader Bandatatya Karadkar recently made an appeal on social media and in interviews, asking devotees to come to Dehu. This has created confusion. If Warkaris come to Dehu in large numbers there will be a possibility of a fast spread of COVID due to that congregation. On this background, Pimpri Chinchwad police commissioner has been in dialogue with senior leaders of the Warkari sect and has convinced them of serious consequences if devotees gather in large numbers.”
Bhoite added, “As part of the process a meeting of senior leaders of the sect was held at Pimpri Chinchwad police commissionerate, where they assured that the call by Bandatatya Karadkar will not be supported. A curfew has been ordered in Dehu, Vitthalwadi, Malwadi, Yelwadi and Bhandara Dongar areas from Sunday morning till the midnight of March 30.”