New Delhi: Social distancing norms and use of masks and sanitisers will be a must in religious places from June 8 as people will be returning to the shrines, which have been closed for over two months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. In-charges and managements of temples, mosques and gurudwaras in the city said preparations are underway to ensure all safety measures are in place as they throw open their doors for the devotees amid the pandemic.
The steps needed to adhere to detailed guidelines of the Centre and the Delhi government, and standard operating procedures for religious places that are yet to be issued will also be implemented, they said. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari said stickers will be affixed on the floor and verandas of the mosque to ensure social distancing during namaz. Shahi Imam said,
We have also decided to discontinue using carpet on which people offer namaz at the mosque and ask people to carry their own ‘musalla’ (mat for offering namaz). We will also suggest them to do ‘wuzu’ (ritual ablution before namaz) and avoid using mosque tanks. Elaborated steps to be taken to keep people safe from the infection. The namazis will also be advised to wear masks and carry sanitisers, and strictly adhere to social distancing norms to keep themselves and others safe from coronavirus.
Fatehpuri Masjid’s Shahi Imam Mufti Mukarram Ahmed said awareness will be key to keeping people safe during the congregational prayers. He said,
We have already been emphasising on social distancing and other precautions. All the steps as advised by the governments in their guidelines will be fully implemented.
The main temples in the city are also ensuring various steps, including use of thermal devices, to keep the devotees safe. Vinod Kumar Mishra, the administrator of the Laxmi Narayan Mandir also known as the Birla temple in central Delhi, said the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) staff had been sanitising the complex on a regular basis for now.
The temple administration is considering hiring an agency for regular sanitisation of the premises once the temple is opened from June 8, Mr. Mishra said. He said,
We have arranged sanitisers and thermal temperature guns and painted circles in the complex to ensure the devotees maintain the physical distancing norms.
Kishor Chawla, the CEO of the Shree Adya Katyayani Shaktipeeth Mandir, said a machine has been deployed to disinfect the entire premises. He said,
Once the temple is thrown open to the devotees, sanitisation drills will be carried out on an hourly basis.
The temple administration will keep sanitiser bottles in each complex and provide masks to those not having one, he said. The devotees won’t be allowed to offer flowers or sweets to the deity. No prasad will be given, he said.
The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) said social distancing norms will be strictly enforced at the shrines with focus on Sis Ganj Sahib, Bangla Sahib and Rakabganj gurudwaras that attract large numbers of devotees. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, the president of DSGMC, said,
We are increasing the number of entry and exit points so that people do not come in contact with others and leave the premises after prayers.
He said foot-operated sanitiser machines are being installed at gurudwara premises besides increasing overall cleanliness to check infection. Mr. Sirsa said the committee is waiting for the government’s standard operating procedures to restart ‘langars’ at the gurudwaras according to the permissible numbers and seating arrangements.
The central government has only said that religious places can open. But it is yet to come out with a detailed procedure about how to go about it, Archbishop of Delhi Anil Couto said. He said,
So we are waiting for further guidelines from the government before churches open for the people. Unlike other religions, Christianity has the concept of community service, so we will have to wait for the guidelines regarding social distancing and the number of persons permitted to visit churches at a time.
He said the churches will act according to the government guidelines about precautions to check coronavirus infection, whenever they are issued.
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