India: Religious places reopen for devotees in Maharashtra
After remaining shut for nearly eight months, places of religious worship reopened in Maharashtra on Monday with COVID-19 prevention protocols in place. Devotees were seen visiting the famous Siddhivinayak temple and the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai, and some of the other prominent religious places in the State.
The reopening of the places of worship coincided with the Diwali ‘Padwa’, which is an important festival in the State.
Early in the morning, devotees were seen visiting Lord Vitthal’s temple at Pandharpur in Solapur, Saibaba’s shrine in Shirdi, Goddess Tulja Bhavani’s temple in Osmanabad and the Siddhivinayak temple and the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.
The Siddhivinayak Temple Trust’s chairman Aadesh Bandekar on Sunday said only 1,000 devotees will be allowed inside the temple every day in staggered time slots to be booked through a mobile phone application.
“We have received good response today…we are letting in 100 people per hour (to ensure physical distancing). Body temperatures and QR codes of devotees are being checked.”
“The temples access barrier is being opened only if a devotee is wearing mask. A proper system is being followed, he said.
The temple trust will review the situation after two days and may allow more devotees to have darshan of Lord Ganesh based on the assessment, Mr. Bandekar said. He also urged senior citizens, pregnant women and children — considered as more vulnerable to novel coronavirus infection — to take care of themselves given the situation.
“Senior citizens can download our mobile app, they can get darshan of Bappa live 24X7…hence, they should not hurry (into visiting the temple). Bappa is there to take care of you, but take care of yourselves,” he said. Bandekar also said the trust has not said “no” to senior citizens for visiting the temple. “But, it should be avoided given the pandemic situation,” he added.
Body temperatures of devotees were also being checked and their hands sanitised outside the Haji Ali Dargah.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday announced reopening of the places of worship, but also cautioned people, saying it cannot be forgotten that the “demon of coronavirus” still persists and called for following discipline.