Any other year, Krishna’s birthday would see tens of thousands of people thronging to the temple dedicated to the Hindu god in the centre of Patan. Even President Bidya Devi Bhandari would have come in the afternoon to pay her respects.
This year, however, the square in front of Krishna Mandir is deserted. There is a notice informing everyone that due to the surge of coronavirus cases in Kathmandu Valley, the festival has been cancelled and only the priests will be conducting puja ceremonies inside. And there are police patrols enforcing the rule.
However, the pandemic has not deterred some families to bring out their children dressed as Lord Krishna, and seeking blessings at the temple from afar. And this year, the devotees are wearing another item in their attire: face masks.
Kathmandu Valley has seen a total of 1,179 cases so far, and three more people died of COVID-19 on Monday. Parts of the Valley have been sealed off, dozens of traffic police have tested positive, and the Valley’s municipalities have shut all business for two weeks.
One of the most visible gods in Hinduism, Krishna first appears in Hindu mythology as a character in the epic Mahabharata. In Kathmandu, where worship of Lord Pashupatinath and Shaivism has deep roots, Krishna became popular during the Malla era 500 years ago, when kings like Siddhi Narsingh Malla commissioned Krishna Mandir in Patan Darbar Square.
Read about the history of Krishna worship in Nepal here: My Sweet Lord.