Reopening of religious places in India during the pandemic

India is a land of religion and spirituality and has several religious places belonging to different religions and sections of people. These religious places haven’t only been a place of prayers and inner peace for the people but also act as a source of income to many. Every year, during various occasions such as Eid, Christmas, Ganesh Puja, the country erupts with celebrations with mass gatherings.

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Image from Soth Africa Today

But, during the ongoing period of the Covid-19 pandemic, India went into a national wide lockdown. The country was completely shut for the past 6 months. With new norms to social gatherings and physical distancing, the people went into new normalcy with a lot of abnormalities.

Slowly, the lockdown was taken off and several necessary businesses were opened but with strict rules. In the recent unlock suggested by the government, it had also proposed the reopening of religious places, but keeping in mind various norms to be followed.

While mosques have asked the devotees to bring their mats and the praying areas have been marked keeping in mind the physical distancing, while temples have sanitizers in the entrance, all devotees to be wearing masks at all times and no distribution of ‘prasads’ and all churches have reduced the number of devotees attending masses by half. The problem proposed by the authorities of various religious organizations is that the bigger boards will be easily able to carry out the precautionary measures and guidelines prescribed by the government but the smaller ones do not have the staff or the fund to do so, and it is furthermore difficult to make the people follow these rules. Fear and confusion among them do exist about the spread of the virus.

Religion is an emotion, and it can’t be confined into norms, but we need to adjust, adapt, and change. The religious places hold a great ground for social gatherings, while the reopening might be to cater to the religious sentiments of the people, we must adhere to physical distancing rules. It is important to stay away to stay closer to god.

Contributed by Shawgat Ashrafi content writer at Mitti Ke Rang

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