Long-awaited darshan for devotees, but shrines taking abundant caution | India News

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Jun 6, 2020

With the virus keeping devotees away from religious places, it’s now time for the much-awaited darshan as restrictions are eased from Monday. Most popular shrines in the country are set to open, albeit with a lot of caution.
The Mahakaleshwar temple in Ujjain will open its doors on June 8 after being shut for 79 days. But devotees can’t just walk in. They have to book a slot via an app or a toll-free number a day in advance.
“Devotees will be allowed to visit the temple between 6.30am and 8.15pm,” said S K Tiwari, assistant administrator of Mahakaleshwar Temple Management Committee, after a meeting on Friday. They will launch the app and helpline in time for people to start making bookings on Sunday.
However, devotees will not be allowed to attend Bhasmarti ritual or enter the sanctum sanctorum.
The Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala will also reopen on June 8 with unprecedented precautions. There will be a trial run from June 8 for two days in which only Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams employees will be allowed. On June 10, TTD will allow only residents of Tirumala.
From June 11, devotees from across the country except from containment zones will be allowed. Only 6,000 devotees will be allowed per day with 500 devotees every hour.
Although the UP government will allow religious places to open from June 8, prominent shrines have different plans for unlocking. So while Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi will open on Monday, temple managements in Mathura have said they can’t open until they get police protection.
In Ayodhya, the famous Hanumangarhi will open on Monday and devotees can also resume darshan of Ram Lalla.
Directions were issued by the state government on Friday that all religious places should have hand sanitisers, thermal scanners and pulse oximeters at the entrance so that devotees can be scanned for temperature or oxygen levels.
Nobody will be allowed to touch any idol or religious book inside the place of worship while no prasad will be distributed either.
However, in Odisha, those wanting to visit the Jagannath temple in Puri will have to wait longer, with the temple managing committee proposing to the government to close the 12th century shrine till July 4.
In Thrissur in Kerala, while nine marriages were held at Guruvayur Temple on Friday, the temple is unlikely to be opened from Monday. Temple authorities said they would require more time to make arrangements, including preparation of a crowd control plan.
Uncertainty also looms over the famous annual pilgrimages. After priests at Badrinath wrote to the Uttarakhand CM to postpone the Char Dham yatra for pilgrims till June 30, locals in the area have also called for measures “to keep the Char Dham free of Covid-19”.
Initially, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Rudraprayag districts — which house the four shrines — had not reported a single Covid case. However, the number has gone up after migrant labourers began to return from other states.
CM Trivendra Singh Rawat said that a final decision on starting the yatra would be taken only after seeking the opinion of priests and local traders.
As uncertainty hovers over the annual Amarnath Yatra, the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board on Friday performed “Pratham Pujan”, the first religious ritual. However SASB CEO said the yatra will be commencing but for a short period as compared to the previous years.
(With inputs from Bhopal, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, Kochi, Dehradun and Jammu)

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