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Janmashtami celebrations were subdued in many parts of the country on Monday due to restrictions on public gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and other leaders greeted people on the occasion when Lord Krishna is believed to have been born.

"Greetings to you all on the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami," Modi said in a tweet.

Extending greetings on the occasion, Naidu urged people to perform their duties with utmost sincerity and walk the path of righteousness.

He also asked them to celebrate the festival in a modest way, strictly adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour.

"Lord Krishna's eternal message, as expounded in the Bhagwad Gita, to discharge our duties with sincerity and without attachment to the outcomes, has been a source of inspiration for all of mankind," the vice president said, adding that on this auspicious day, "let us all resolve to perform our duties with utmost sincerity and to walk the path of righteousness".

"May this Janmashtami bring peace, harmony and prosperity in our country," he hoped.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also wished people on the occasion of Janmashtami.

"My best wishes to the people of Kerala on the occasion of #SreeKrishnaJayanti. Stories and songs on Lord Krishna's life and message continue to guide us towards greater moral & spiritual development," Khan wrote on Twitter.

Vijayan, in a Facebook post, said, "Sri Krishna Jayanti is a day of outreach, love and brotherhood during the pandemic. May this day bring the goodness of Krishna's concepts, sense of justice and kindness to the helpless to the hearts of the whole society. Happy Sri Krishna Jayanti to all."

At Guruvayur temple in Kerala's Thrissur, where the occasion is celebrated with much pomp and splendour, only 500 devotees who booked the "darshan" online would be allowed for worship this year due to the Covid restrictions, the Guruvayur Devaswom told PTI.

It said no special puja or event is being organised in view of the restrictions.

In the absence of any visitors, religious places in Delhi, including the Kalkaji temple, the Chhatarpur temple and the Birla Mandir, have scaled down the celebrations in terms of programmes and decorations, focussing only on the rituals that mark the birth of Lord Krishna.

In order to prevent a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Delhi Police requested people on Sunday not to visit temples and to celebrate Janmashtami at home.

However, the festival was celebrated enthusiastically at various temples of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, a region associated with the legend of Lord Krishna.

The Covid protocols were largely ignored at these places and most devotees were seen not wearing masks or following social distancing.

While there was an early morning gathering of devotees at the Sri Krishna Janmasthan, as the day progressed, the crowds swelled in Vrindavan, where the festival was celebrated at three temples during the daytime.

"The devotees danced at the precinct of the Sri Krishna Janmasthan when a melodious tune was played on shahnai to mark the celebration of Janmashtami," Kapil Sharma, secretary, Sri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, said.

Hundreds of devotees attended the "abhishek" (bathing ceremony) of the deity at the Dwarkadhish temple, Rakesh Tewari, the public relations officer of the temple, said.

The "abhishek" ceremony at the Radha Raman temple lasted for over three hours as priests Padma Nabh Goshwami, Srivatsa Goshwami, Dinesh Chandra Goshwami and Om Goshwami jointly performed the rituals.

A total of 27 quintals of curd, milk, honey, khandsari, ghee and a paste of herbs were used for performing the bathing ceremony of the deity, one of the priests said.

The highlight of the "abhishek" ceremony at the Radha Damodar temple was playing Holi with a mixture of turmeric and curd to mark the birth of Lord Krishna.

In Srinagar, Kashmiri Pandits took out a Janmashtami procession after a gap of two years.

Amid tight security arrangements, the procession started from the Ganpatyar temple in the city's Habba Kadal area and passed through Kralkhud, Barbarshah before reaching the clock tower at the historic Lal Chowk, officials said.

They said the procession crossed over the Amirakadal bridge, passed through the Jehangir chowk and returned to the temple.

The devotees, including men, women and children, danced alongside the chariot and distributed sweets among people.

There was no procession in Srinagar in 2020 due to COVID-19, while the lockdown imposed in the wake of the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status in August 2019 had led to the cancellation of the event.

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