Indore: As Indore slowly unlocks and learns to live life, fighting the spread of COVID-19, temples, mosques, gurudwaras and churches are working towards developing new systems to ensure the safety of devotees during communal prayers.
The new way of life after lockdown and continuous efforts to ensure safety from COVID-19 is a much more disciplined and planned way of life. Even to meet the lord one would have to pre-plan the visit.
Coordinators and representatives of different communities shared how the new systems are being defined and will be in process, as Indore gears up to unlock religious places.
Do not touch, book, pray & meditate: Unlock Temples
From the ancient temple of Khajrana which is an essential part of Indore’s identity, to the little temple in your colony, every temple needs to ensure social distancing and necessary precautions for the prevention of COVID-19.
An essential part is crowd control. “Unlike before, we cannot allow people to stand in a long queue or risk infecting temple premises, so an essential part of preparations is online or live ‘darshan’,” Ashok Bhatt, Khajrana temple priest said.
If you would wish to visit the temple, it would require pre-planning and bookings. “Bookings and prior planning of allowing only a certain number of people in the temple premise will become necessary,” Bhatt said.
Further, there will be a ban on touching the idol, or any other item. Khajrana Ganesh has a sensor powered bell that will ring sensing touch, hence, no touching.
As of now no gatherings and bhajans would be allowed initially. In local temples, as shared by Chaupan Dham temple pandit Puneet Dwivedi, devotees will bring their own mats for sitting and maintain social distancing.
“Entry to the sanctum sanctorum will remain closed,” Ayyappa temple committee president Sajan Panicker said.
Call, wear mask, sanitise & pray: Unlock Church
Decentralisations is the way to plan and take a step ahead for unlocking church in the city. Right Reverend Chacko Thottumarickal, the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Indore, shared how Indore plans to unlock churches and ensure safety of all the devotees.
“Starting from the first step, entering the church will require prior telephonic permission from the Parish priest,” Chacko said. With the confirmation of entry, devotees will be required to wear a mask, clear the health check and strictly follow the floor markings.
“We are going to limit people allowed in the church at a particular time based on capacity,” Chacko said. He added that on an average, 20 people will be allowed inside the church premises at a particular time.
He added that the responsibility of ensuring the safety of devotees and following protocols of prevention of COVID-19 has been passed on to representative Father responsible for the church.
Wash, wear mask & sewa protocols : Unlock Gurudwaras
Gurudwaras are known to help the needy and playing the role of a saviour in many difficult times. Taking the time of lockdown and now unlocking, the Sikh community has taken an initiative to provide masks to every gurudwara visitor.
“A group of widows was hired to prepare masks for gurudwaras and we have 10,000 such masks prepared now,” Devender Singh Gandhi, community coordinator, said.
“Langar has not been allowed for people, so we have formulated a way in which it is would be safer to provide communal meals,” Gandhi said. He explained that every devotee would be required to carry a towel for washing up before and after the meal.
“The langar halls are being marked with arrows and pointers to ensure that there is enough social distancing between people while eating,” Gandhi said.
Volunteers to guide devotees: Unlocking Mosques
Washing up hands and feet outside mosques will be the new norm for entering mosques of Bohra community. “Markings have been put up and people are not expected to crowd mosques as of now,” community spokesperson Johar Manpurwala said.
“To ensure social distancing while entering and leaving mosques, some volunteers would be stationed at the gate,” Manpurwala said.
He added that it is less likely to be a struggle, as Syedna has already given instructions to follow government protocols strictly to the community.
For mosques in Khajrana and other Muslim dominated areas, planning is still in process as shared by Shahar Qazi Dr Ishrat Ali.
· Book in advance
· Bring your own mat
· Health check
· Wash up legs and hands with soap
· Walk in designated lane and railings
· Darshan/Prayers from distance
· Meditate and stay for limited period
· Return with blessings