In light of the spread of COVID-19, religious leaders across communities are making efforts to ensure there is no crowding and that social distancing is maintained in the city. From dargahs being shut for tourists, allowing the faithful exemption from attending Sunday mass to shutting down important religious centres like Siddhivinayak temple, community leaders are working in coordination with the state machinery.
In a statement, Suhail Khandwani, managing trustee of Mahim and Haji Ali dargahs, on Thursday said, “Taking into consideration the present scenario with regards to the pandemic of COVID-19, we have decided to restrict entry to dargah premises to support various government initiatives to curtail the spread of the virus.”
“…As Mahim dargah is a platform of humanity and service to mankind, it will be closed for sanitisation. Entry will be restricted till further notice at both Mahim and Haji Ali dargah,” the statement further read.
Khandwani told The Indian Express, “Around 60-65 dargahs in the city will be kept shut.” Apart from this, Raza Academy general secretary Saeed Noorie said, “Special arrangements are being made at mosques for Friday prayers. At Bilal mosque in Do Tanki, there will be thermal screening before allowing people to enter. In other places too, people will be asked to visit the mosque only for the essential jumma (Friday) prayers… We are also advising people to perform ablutions from home and come.”
Siddhivinayak temple, one of the most popular temples in the city, closed its premises for devotees from Monday onwards following social distancing. While initially the temple premises had provided sanitisers to devotees and taken other measures, eventually a decision was taken to shut it down.
On Tuesday, Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, exempted believers from attending the Sunday Mass till March 31. The spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Bombay had said they were encouraging people to stay at home and the obligation to attend Sunday mass had been lifted. On Wednesday, Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh met several community leaders and asked them to ensure that crowding was avoided.
n Sri Ramkrishna temple shut
The Universal Temple of Bhagwan Sri Ramkrishna and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi in Khar announced that the temple will remain shut from Thursday until further notice. The decision was conveyed by Swami Satyade-vananda, secretary, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, on Thursday.