Kerala

Temples to replace bhajans with COVID-19 guidance

Two-minute-long message by the district health wing will be played every morning and evening

In the midst of mass closure of religious establishments following the COVID-19 scare, these temples are guiding the faithful through a different route for solace.

Starting from Thursday, the people in and around the Kadapattur Mahadeva temple, a major stopover of Sabarimala pilgrims in Kottayam, and the Kavinpuram Umamaheswara temple in Ezhacherry will wake up to public announcements on the best practices for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-minute-long message, scripted and recorded by the district Health Department, will replace the devotional bhajans usually played out through the temples’ speakers during the opening and closing rituals every morning and evening.

The initiative is being implemented in association with the Kottayam district administration and the Mutholi panchayat, where the Mahadeva temple is located and command attention of large audiences.

According to the temple authorities, a decision to play the message instead of bhajans formed part of its duty to offer spiritual guidance to the public in times of crisis. “Rather than waiting for the government to act, we are taking it upon ourselves to be at the forefront of communication about the pandemic,” said T.N. Sukumaran Nair, president of the Uma Maheswara temple devaswom committee.

Saju Kadapattur, a member of the Kadapattur devaswom commitee and president of the Kadapattur NSS Karayogam said this response was emblematic of how temples in the region were handling the crisis. “During the mega-floods of 2018, our role was to offer relief to the flood victims. The situation this time, however, warrants a different course of action in which our duty is to disseminate Information,” he said.

N. Maya Devi, the local panchayat member who coordinates initiative, is of the opinion that the temples can get people to do things in an expedited manner. “We have been receiving inquiries from various other temple managements in the region on the initiative. There are about 300 temples in and around the Meenachil Taluk and it will be very helpful if we can get at least some of them together,” she said.

Commenting on the initiative, District Collector P.K. Sudheer Babu said a direction with regard to promoting guidance on COVID-19 outbreak had been issued to all the local bodies in the district. “Since all public places including railway stations and bus stands have ceased to operate, this is a useful way to reach out to the public,” observed the official.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 2:01:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/temples-to-replace-bhajans-with-covid-19-guidance/article31164127.ece

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