Tamil Nadu

Temple staff in a dilemma over enforcing restrictions

A devotee entering a temple in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: SRINIVASAN KV

Temples staff are unsure of implementing the 50% entry of devotees as stipulated by the government due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the State.

An employee of a temple managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department pointed out that although they were being asked to implement the same SOP of 20 persons per 1,075 sq ft, no entry into temple ponds, no archanais or special pujas, 50 guests per wedding in halls and 10 inside temples, this time adhering to the 50% rule could become a problem.

“People will accuse us of favouritism. Recently, in a temple festival, under the orders of the District Collector, the authorities restricted the number of devotees to 200 and people who had walked in created a ruckus. How can we turn away people saying they cannot enter, especially since these are places of worship?” asked a staff at a Siva temple in the city.

After the guidelines were relaxed, temples saw a surge in the number of devotees and many were senior citizens, who could not visit due to the restrictions. “For the past two weeks, despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, senior citizens continue to visit temples. The staff have been instructed not to let in such elders, children and those with co-morbidities. Devotees would have to decide by themselves and opt not go to temples,” said an official.

About regular sanitising and cleaning of temple precincts, an employee at a small temple said they did not have funds for elaborate cleaning.

“The last time, we had been allotted a certain amount for purchasing these items. This time, bigger temples are giving us cleaning material. Since we have to deal with crowds this time, we request the government to ensure supplies,” said a temple employee.

Relief sought

Several Muslim organisations requested the State government to relax the rule on closing places of worship at 8 p.m. due to the month of Ramzan fromb April 14.

“After the break of the day-long fasting, we have a special prayer called Tharavih from 8 p.m. to 9.45 p.m. The government has accepted our request,” . We will instruct mosques all over the State to close by 9.45 p.m. and ensure strict personal distancing,” said Mohammed Akbar, Assistant Quazi to the Chief Quazi of Tamil Nadu.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 6:10:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/temple-in-a-dilemma-over-enforcing-restrictions/article34292396.ece

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