Kullu, the Valley of Gods, is one of the most picturesque places in India. Kullu is known for its beautiful gorges, wondrous waterfalls, chatty mountain stream and ancient temples, and the valley is also known for its larger than life grand Dussehra celebrations. It is a lovely blend of rich culture, history and ritual.Also Read - Travel Tips For Andaman And Nicobar Islands: 5 Must-Visit Places, Adventure Activities, And More

It’s a weeklong festival celebrated in a majestic style which signifies the victory of good over evil. However, this time around, COVID puts the break on Lord Raghunath’s chariot. Like most festivals in 2020, Kullu’s Dussehra also got hit by the pandemic, the COVID-19 scare is all set to overshadow the celebrations in Himachal Pradesh. Every year, the Kullu Dussehra celebrations used to start on Vijaya Dashmi and last for seven days in the month of October. Also Read - Visit Chaukori in Uttarakhand For a Heaven-Like Experience - Here Are Some Places to See And More

Keeping with COVID guidelines, the district administration has drastically restricted the participation of deities as well as the devotees accompanying them at the weeklong festival beginning on 25 October in Kullu town, reported The Statesman. Also Read - As Sikkim Decides to Lift Inter-State Travel Curbs - Here Are Some Places to Explore

Every year, more than 300 deities assemble with over thousands of devotees at Kullu’s Dhalpur ground to honour Lord Raghunath, however this year the scenario will be different. This year, the administration has allowed only seven deities to participate in the ‘Dev Milan’ at Kullu Dussehra festival this year, read the Statesman report, only 50 people have been allowed to accompany the palanquins of deities, who will have to get their COVID test done first.

“Only those deities, whose presence is mandatory to perform the rituals at the festival, have been invited this time due to Covid,” as per the officials. Local deities Bijli Mahadev and Mata Hidimba have been invited to the festival among other few.

“It has been decided in a meeting with ‘Dev Samaj’ representatives that only seven deities will attend Dussehra. There would be no cultural shows and no commercial activity or exhibitions during the festival,” said Govind Singh Thakur, Education minister who also heads the Kullu Dussehra Festival Committee and is an MLA from Manali.

Kullu Deputy Commissioner Richa Verma told TOI that cultural programmes including international folk dance festivity have been cancelled. “None of the deities have been invited officially. Following the government orders, only 100 persons will be allowed to take part in the rath yatra. All of them will have to undergo Covid-19 test and will need to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing.”.

This decision by the administrations has left many locals, tourists, devotees disappointed.