(Riya Singh, Intern Journalist) Patna: The famous Pitripaksh Mela at Gaya, scheduled to begin on September 1, will not be held this time owing to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Based on the recommendation of the revenue and land reforms department in view of the ongoing lockdown, the Gaya district administration on Wednesday issued a notification to cancel the fair—an annual ritual for people to pay homage and offer food (pind-daan) to their ancestors.

DM of Gaya, Abhishek Singh, on Wednesday said the decision to shelve the ritual was taken in view of the state government’s lockdown, which is effective till September 6, and the challenges of maintaining social distancing norms. He also urged the priests to convey the message to devotees, who were planning to attend the ritual.

“It would be highly risky to allow the ritual, as devotees happen to be the vulnerable age group of 60-65 years. Those willing to offer pind-daan may come hereafter the coronavirus is contained,” he said.

Local legislator and agriculture minister Prem Kumar, however, expressed his reservations over the cancellation of the fair and said the priest community (Pandas) and local businessmen were enraged over the decision, as they rested on this fair to earn livelihoods for the entire year.

Some local voluntary organizations have also protested the state government’s decision, saying that the temple management committee had already descaled the ritual and less than 50,000 people were expected to arrive in Gaya this time.

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