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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Online appointments, Covid rules greet devotees in Mumbai

The first day of reopening did not see much crowd as many popular temples like Mumbadevi and Siddhivinayak only allowed devotees who had booked online appointments for darshan.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
October 8, 2021 4:08:55 am
A man prays as other devotees wait to enter a temple after it was reopened for the public, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mumbai. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Places of worship in Mumbai reopened on Thursday after remaining closed for over six months due to the second wave of Covid-19.

The first day of reopening did not see much crowd as many popular temples like Mumbadevi and Siddhivinayak only allowed devotees who had booked online appointments for darshan.

Over 2,500 devotees visited Mumbadevi temple in Kalbadevi. “We are allowing 250 devotees in an hour, all with prior booking. At the entrance, we are checking their temperature and oxygen level. Nobody is allowed inside without a mask. The temple will remain open from 7 am to 6 pm. We will ensure that Covid-19 protocol is followed properly,” said Hemant Jadhav from the Mumbadevi temple trust.

However, since it was also the first day of Navratri festival, many people arrived at the temple without taking online appointments. “Many devotees arrived without appointment. We explained to them about the online appointment procedure and asked them to return,” Jadhav said.

Early morning, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, with wife Rashmi and son Aaditya also visited Mumbadevi temple.

At Siddhivinayak temple in Prabhadevi, devotees were allowed darshan with online appointment and QR code. The Siddhivinayak trust also allowed 250 devotees per hour to maintain social distancing norms.

On October 1, the BMC had issued guidelines for reopening of places of worship. The civic body has said that all religious places should reopen at 50 per cent capacity.

Mosques also opened for worship on Thursday. Shoaib Khatib, trustee and chairperson of Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust, said that only 50 per cent of the total people will be allowed for Friday prayer.

“On first day, there was a crowd. The trust has made arrangements by following Covid-19 protocol. Since all mosques have opened, people have dispersed to offer prayers,” he added.

Khatib further said, “The challenge will be on Juma day (Friday prayer), when many people will visit mosques. We have decided to have multiple Friday congregational prayers so that social distancing is maintained. We have also increased our number of volunteers so that they can guide people in following Covid-19 protocol.”

While churches in Mumbai also reopened, trusts said they are making arrangements for regular Sunday masses. “From Sunday, regular masses will start… while two masses will be held in the morning, one will be organised in the evening. It will be ensured that all Covid-19 norms are followed with the help of volunteers. Similar instructions have been issued by the archdiocese of Mumbai for parish and priest,” said Godfrey Pimenta, associated with St John the Evangelist Church in Marol.

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