Vrindavan, 2019.01.02 (VT): New Year 2019 was welcomed with chants of ‘Radhe Radhe’ echoing across Braj Dham.
Huge crowds gathered in Govardhan to see the Radha Kund and Shyam Kund shining with bright lights. Elaborate rituals were held at Shri Giriraj Temple. As the New Year also coincided with ‘Saphala Ekadashi’, people took a dip in the kund and asked Radha Rani to grant their wishes. Hundreds of tonnes of fruit was offered to the kunds.
Thousands upon thousands of devotees rang in the New Year with a darshan of their beloved Lord Banke Bihari. The temple was decorated with colourful balloons for the occasion, and perfumes were sprinkled in the premises.
Even though the entry and exit points were regulated and arrangements were made to ensure one-way movement of people, the crowd swelled beyond the control of the police/security personnel. The temples’s Parikrama Marg entrance had to be closed by barricading.
People also thronged Ladliji Mandir in Barsana, Nandgaon’s Nand Bhavan, Baldeo’s Dauji Mandir Dwarkadheesh temple and Jhadi Wala Hanuman in Naujheel, Mathura. ‘Chappan Bhog’ was organised at Bawla Ashram’s Hanuman Mandir and Kusum Sarovar. Food and blankets were distributed at ‘Bhandaras’ that were set up in numerous locations.
Many devotees also chose to celebrate the New Year by doing Govardhan, Vrindavan or Gehvarvan (Barsana) Parikrama. While the crowds made multiple darshans problematic and some locals chose to avoid the crowds, others went to have a first darshan at the temple they feel most connected to.
TRAFFIC AND CROWD MANAGEMENT- HITS AND MISSES
Police remained on guard to ensure smooth movement of traffic and security of pilgrims. Extra force was deployed at popular temples, railway stations, bus stands and highways. Checks were conducted at regular intervals with officials being particularly alert against illegal products including alcohol and drugs being carried inside the city.
All entry points in Govardhan and Vrindavan were manned by the Police. Four-wheelers and outside vehicles were restricted at the peripheries. However, despite all efforts, there were some lapses in traffic and crowd management.
As parking facilities in Vrindavan were inadequate, vehicles were directed to ‘Naveen Mandi Samiti’ on Panigaon raod. While it was supposed to be a free parking facility, some miscreants were reportedly making money on the scene. In Vrindavan, slow-moving traffic near Raman Reti, Attala Chungi, Vidyapeeth Chauraha, Harini Kunj, Parikrama Marg and Chatikara Road inconvenienced locals and pilgrims alike.
Police also failed to manage the crowd at Banke Bihari temple as the entry points from Dauji Tiraha, Vidhyapeeth Chauraha and Gautam Pada were left unguarded.