Ahead of the Medaram Jathara at the Sri Raja Rajeshwara temple in Telangana’s Vemulawada, temple authorities have said that measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be stepped up in the premises. Tens of thousands of people usually gather for the annual Jathara, a tribal festival, which takes place in February.
On Wednesday, January 19, District Collector Anurag Jayanthi directed L Rama Devi, the Executive Officer (EO) of the temple, to ensure that strict COVID-19 protocol be followed. Following this, the EO inspected the temple and appointed a 50-member response team who would monitor the devotees and urge them to follow the standard protocol of physical distancing, sanitising hands and wearing a mask, to minimise the spread of the virus.
The Medaram Jathara, also known as Sammaka Saralamma Jathara, is one of the largest tribal religious congregations in India. It usually takes place in the month of February, in Tadvai mandal of Mulugu district. Traditionally, the devotees going to the Jathara plan their itinerary in such a way that they visit the Vemulawada temple before going to Mulugu. And as the festival date is nearing, approximately 15,000-20,000 devotees have been visiting the temple every day, officials say, which has caused them to worry. The temple has been witnessing an uptick in crowds since December 2021, the officials said.
As per the instructions of the district authorities, 13 thermal screening points have been erected in the temple, along with 13 sanitiser points near bus stops, cycle parking and other public places, as well as five stalls distributing free masks at different points. “Any devotee without a mask would not be allowed into the temple. They have to wear it in a proper manner, covering their nose and mouth. Masks are mandatory. Using hand sanitisers is also important for which we have arranged them at several points,” said Rama Devi.
She added, “The 50-member team will maintain a thorough vigilance and create awareness among the people. The strict precautionary measures would instill some feeling of seriousness about the disease among the people and we are hoping that they would cooperate.”
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Telangana recorded 3,557 fresh COVID-19 cases, with Hyderabad registering the highest number of cases at 1474. Three deaths were also recorded, taking the toll of 4,065. The total number of cases so far in the state is recorded at 7,18,196, as per the official health bulletin issued by the Director of Public Health.