The ongoing restrictions imposed due to the second wave of Covid-19 have affected the animal world too besides greatly impacting the lives of people from different walks of life.

In the Lakhimpur district, animals that live inside the premises of places of worship are no exception to this.

Such is the condition of the monkeys at the historic Sri Sri Anirudhdhabev Naharati Thaan in Lakhimpur’s Bihpuria that have been in dire straits as Covid restrictions disallowed devotees to enter its premises since May this year.

The pilgrims and devotees that visit this 17th-century Mayamora shrine bring fruits, chick peas and lentils to offer as Prasad and use a considerable amount of these for the resident monkeys there.

But as Covid restrictions disallowed the devotees and pilgrims inside the shrine the monkeys faced food shortages.

According to Sibi Ram Das, the secretary of the managing committee of the Thaan, there are more than 300 monkeys inside the shrine living on its famed Nahar trees.

“As the food supplies came down due to Covid, the starving monkeys started entering the nearby villages damaging the vegetable gardens,” said Das.

But food started to pour in following some social media posts by some animal lovers describing the plight of the monkeys inside the shrine in mid-May.

After that people from different parts of the Lakhimpur district visited the Thaan in small groups bringing food for the monkeys.

The posting of such initiatives on social media encouraged people across all faiths and creeds to bring fruits and other food for the monkeys of the historic Mayamora shrine.

People, whose relatives died during the Covid restrictions, also sent fruits and other food for these monkeys as they could not hold religious ceremonies for the dead.

However, the imposition of round-the-clock lockdown in the district since July 7 has bared the visitors from entering the shrine. This has again left the simian residents of the shrine to starvation again.

Apart from this, the managing committee of the Thaan is worried about the mysterious decay of some of its Nahar trees since June last year.

According to secretary Sibi Ram Das, the trees, all old of several decades, started decaying following an earth-filling work in 2020.

It has been observed that the filling of the overground roots of the trees by earth may have caused their decay.

However, the shrine management committee has not received any support from the forest department office.

The Harmutty Forest Range Office, of whose jurisdiction the area falls, has been unresponsive despite requests by the shrine management committee, alleged Das.

The agriculture departments, Botany departments of various colleges of Lakhimpur district also seem to be least bothered by this phenomenon despite media coverage since last year.

The historic Sri Sri Anirudhdhadev Naharati Thaan spread over 64 bighas of land also has also faced encroachment. Around 14 bighas of land of this shrine have been illegally occupied by people from nearby villages.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com