BENGALURU: Touch-free prasada distribution at temples, three individuals per bench at churches and an Imam at mosques overseeing social distancing rules... It’s time for devotees to get ready for this new normal
It’s time devotees get ready to see hand sanitisers and temperature guns getting as, if not more, prominence as prasada and kumkum in temples. Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa’s initial announcement about the reopening of places of worship on June 1, was later shifted to June 8, leaving many priests and devotees in a state of confusion. However, there seems to be clear thinking in everyone’s minds that worship is not going to be the same affair as before. On Monday, the Bull Temple and Dodda Ganapathi temple in Basvanagudi wore an empty look with a few devotees enquiring about the goings-on. “I’ve been coming here for a few weeks even though the temple if not open for poojas,” said Padma, an elderly woman who hopes the temple will open on June 8.
While permissions have been granted to start in a week, the ISKCON temple may not open until the second or third week of this month. Working out the logistics of running the temple, Naveena Neerada Dasa, Head –Strategic Communications & Projects, says more time is required to ensure smooth running of practices. “We are trying to make the public visit as contactless as possible, for which planning and work are in progress. We are chalking out squares for social distancing, putting in place a wash facility for hands and feet, and working on making prasada distribution a touch-free experience. The number of people allowed to enter at any particular time may also be restricted,” says Dasa.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple on Commercial Street, which was once a bustling space, opened its doors tentatively, ready with sanitisers. “We had only about 10 visitors the entire day,” says Srikanth, the priest, who opened the temple after over two months on Monday. “We are still awaiting details from the government to decide how we will operate when the crowds are large, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays,” says Srikanth about the 250-year-old temple.
In the same area, Masjid e Hazrat Kambalposh in Shivajinagar has chalked out a detailed safety plan in light of their reopening. Atheeq Ahmed, administrator of the mosque, emphasised that social distancing will be followed during prayers, which will be overseen by the Imam. While the premises will be sanitised every day, individuals will have to bring their own prayer mats. “There will be no entry for those who do not take the listed precautions. While the daily congregation isn’t in big numbers, Friday prayers is when we expect more people. We are working out the logistics,” says Ahmed.
Wearing masks while attending mass at church will be the new norm at the St. Mary’s Basilica in Shivajinagar. Fr Martin Kumar, Rector and Parish Priest, says only three individuals per bench will be allowed, no holy water will be provided during mass, and there will be zero physical contact. He asserts that the communion given must be consumed immediately and people will be requested to return home as soon as the service concludes. “Those who don’t get a seat on the bench will be accommodated outside the church hall where LED screens will be installed,” he says, adding that community fests to celebrate the eucharist and communion which are part of the service cannot be omitted or cut short. “We may have little setbacks in the beginning but things will fall in line gradually,” he says.