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16 Priest, PAC men test coronavirus positive in Ayodhya


LUCKNOW: At a time when Ayodhya is being spruced up in preparations for the August 5 bhoomi pujan of Ram temple, the deadly coronavirus has struck a priest and 16 PAC men on duty at the temple site where the mega event will take place.

The event marking the commencement of Ram temple construction will be held in the presence of PM Narendra Modi. The rituals will start from August 3. Covid-affected priest Acharya Pradeep Das is a junior to Mahant Satyendra Das, the head priest of Lord Ram’s temporary abode — a pre-fabricated bulletproof fibre structure. 

Mahant Satyendra Das has four disciples who assist him in the daily rituals. Acharaya Pradeep Das is one of them. The affected priest and the 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary men have been quarantined and the entire compound is being sanitised.

For the ceremony, 11 priests from Varanasi and Ayodhya will perform the pooja. The affected priest is not part of this group. The temple trust has decided to get the entire Ram Janmabhoomi campus sanitised on a daily basis. “There is nothing to worry about,” said Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, successor-designate to Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, chairman of the trust.

Prominent among those who are likely to visit Ayodhya for Bhoomi Pujan, 50 would be the most revered seers and saints from different parts of the country. Another 50 political dignitaries will include LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharti, Kalyan Singh and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, some Cabinet ministers and a few CMs. The rest 100 invitees may include social figures.

Though the temple trust has sent a list of 200 invitees to the PMO for clearance, sources said not more than 125 are likely to get the approval. As per the arrangement, while two fire and waterproof pandals are being erected for the PM, CM Yogi Adityanath and other VVIPs, four blocks with seating capacity of 50 each are being designed at the pooja site to accommodate the invitees. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teertha Kshetra Trust has appealed to saints to perform pooja from 11.30 am to 12.30 pm on August 5. 

Lord Ram’s images to be displayed in Times Square 
Images of Lord Ram and 3D portraits of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya will be beamed across the giant billboards in the iconic Times Square here on August 5 to celebrate the temple’s groundbreaking ceremony