A day ahead of Mahalaya Amavasya, a large number of people on Wednesday thronged the Amma Mandapam bathing ghat in Srirangam to perform rituals in memory of their ancestors.
The bathing ghats in the city were to be closed on Thursday as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19.
Rows of people and purohits were seen seated along the Amma Mandapam bathing ghat on Wednesday morning as they gathered to perform the rituals. Many were seen violating personal distance norms, while some did not have masks, onlookers said.
A large number of people come to bathing ghats along the Cauvery and Kollidam in the city on Mahalaya Amavasya every year to propitiate their forefathers. This year, however, Collector S. Sivarasu banned performance of rituals due to the pandemic and requested the public not to visit the ghats on Thursday.
S. Mahalingam, who was at the ghat to perform rituals, said it was important to him to pray for his ancestors. We decided to go a day in advance so that we could avoid the crowds. We did not expect such a gathering of people.
Some felt special arrangements should have been made at the bathing ghats to regulate the crowd for Mahalaya Amavasya.
The district administration should have managed the crowd instead of banning peoples entry. It is a tradition to offer prayers here, and banning it only causes further overcrowding, another visitor said.
Meanwhile, T. M. Ranganathan, a resident of Srirangam, said rituals and prayers could be offered for a period of 15 days and people need not throng the bathing ghats.
Mahalaya Amavasya is the first day of a fortnight of prayers for the wellbeing of ancestors. This year, many have performed the rituals in a small way at their homes due to COVID-19. Those who feel the need to take the holy dip can do it from Friday, he added.