Religious places across the country flung open their doors to the devotees almost three months after they were shut due to the COVID-19 induced nationwide lockdown. From temples and Gurudwaras to mosques and churches, a steady stream of devotees thronged all the religious sites.
While people stood inside marked circles in queues at one side and maintained social distancing, priests dawned protective masks and sat at the opposite end. Idols were also sanitised properly. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offered prayers at Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhnath temple, of which he is the head priest, after it reopened its doors to devotees for the first time in over two months.
In Delhi, Ravinder Goel, trustee of the Jhandewalan temple said, "Thermal screening is being done twice, once near the shoe rack and again at the entrance. There is also a sanitisation tunnel at the entrance. Standing places in the lines were also earmarked clearly so as to avoid crowding." The temple trustee added that religious offerings like fruits are not being given to the devotees, but instead they are being handed a pouch with 'mishri' after they head out of the temple. Temple bells have also been covered with clothes.
People arrived at Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi to offer prayers where community kitchens or langar was also served. Wikimedia Commons
At the Prachin Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place, a man dressed as 'Hanuman' danced to the tune of drums. BJP leader Manish Tiwari also visited the temple. People also flocked to the Kalka Ji temple and the Gauri Shankar Temple in Chandni Chowk to offer their prayers. In Kalka Ji, the temple authorities turned back a batch of old people or parents who had brought their small children along. A devotee said, "I have been waiting for so long for the temples to open. I will pray to God to keep my family safe from the deadly virus."
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At the religious places, authorities were seen directing people not to touch the idols. Not more than 5-10 devotees were allowed inside the shrine at a time. Each devotee was asked to pass through the sanitisation tunnel installed at the entry gate. The devotees without face masks were not allowed, and entry of those below 10 years and above 65 years was barred. Besides taking the precautionary measures, a Noida-based Sanatan Dharma Temple also provided masks to those who did not have it.
Delhi's Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid also reopened for devotees. They were sanitized in the morning before reopening. People also arrived at Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi to offer prayers where community kitchens or langar was also served. One of the priests said, "All the precautionary measures are being taken. Sarovar is, however, closed. We are ensuring that people do not face any issue." (IANS)