Places of worship to admit believers from June 9

Bride and bridegroom attending their wedding ceremony by covering faces with masks at the Sreekrishna temple in Guruvayur on Friday.  

Temples, churches and mosques will admit believers in a limited manner from June 9, indicating the impending return of some appearance of normalcy even as Kerala witnessed a worryingly steady rise in COVID-19 cases.

At his news conference on Friday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said a videoconference of religious leaders he had chaired recently agreed that preserving life and the health of citizens took precedence over ritualistic acts of collective worship during the pandemic. Hence, the relaxations come with a set of rigorous restrictions aimed at minimising the risk of transmission.

Mr. Vijayan warned the pandemic continued to cast a grim shadow over Kerala and the faithful should not take the easing of the restrictions for granted.

Only 100 believers

The videoconference had decided not to allow pregnant women, persons above the age of 65 and children below 10 into houses of worship. The number of persons at a time in a place of worship should not be more than 100. The circumscribed space for 15 persons should be 100 square feet (9 square metres). Worshippers should wear masks and maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet (1.8 m) among one another.

Houses of worship should allow only persons who write down their name, age, address and mobile phone number at the point of entry. There should be a separate exit for devotees. The visitor’s register should be maintained promptly.

Worshippers should not use tank water for washing and instead rely on piped running water. They should wear masks, bring their prayer mats and keep footwear separate.

Mr. Vijayan said rituals such as the first communion should be done without physical contact. Priests should avoid the practice of distributing food, ‘prasadam’ and ‘theertham’ and desist from sprinkling devotees with water. Priests should wear masks mandatorily. Devotees should desist from communal prayers and chanting and singing in groups.

Sabarimala pilgrimage

Sabarimala pilgrimage would resume in a restricted manner. The police would allow only those who had booked their darshan in advance through the virtual queue system. They would not permit any person above the age of 65 or below the age of 10 to make the pilgrimage. Only 50 persons would be allowed inside the temple at a time.

The Travancore Devaswom Board will conduct the flag-hoisting ceremony and ‘arat’ rituals in Sabarimala in a scaled-down manner with just the necessary staff.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 9:26:37 AM |

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