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No human pyramids in Mumbai's 'Lord Krishna' festival due to coronavirus

MUMBAI (Reuters) - There were no human pyramids in Mumbai’s Janmashtami festival celebrating Lord Krishna on Wednesday, which normally attracts thousands onto the streets, due to a surge in coronavirus in India, with more than 60,000 cases reported in 24 hours.

FILE PHOTO: Devotees form a human pyramid to break a clay pot containing curd during the Hindu festival of Janmashtami, marking the birth anniversary of Hindu Lord Krishna, in Mumbai, India August 24, 2019. REUTERS/Prashant Waydande

“This year, the celebration will be symbolic,” said Ram Kadam, a state lawmaker who organises one such celebration in Mumbai.

“We will just have posters cheering on doctors and nurses, and will pray to the Lord to help us overcome this pandemic.

Usually Hindus in Mumbai form human pyramids and try to break a pot of curd at the top. Folklore says Krishna formed pyramids with friends to break pots of butter or curd hung from ceilings so they could steal the contents.

Kadam said there would be no public festivities in Mumbai this year. State governments have clamped down on celebrations since a strict lockdown was imposed in India on March 25.

On Tuesday, in a video-conference with regional leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested states like Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is capital, to ramp up coronavirus testing and focus on contact tracing and isolation, saying it was key in controlling the spread of the outbreak.

But muted festivities affect thousands of small scale businesses and vendors, who have already been hit by the economic downturn brought on by the lockdown.

Janmashtami heralds a festive period for India’s majority Hindus, with another festival celebrating the elephant-headed God Ganpati this month, and several others until November.

India has reported a total of 2.33 million cases so far, third only behind Brazil and the United States. Its death toll is now at 46,091, federal health data showed on Wednesday.

(This story has been refiled to fix typos in last two paragraphs)

Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Michael Perry

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