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The ‘new normal’ in places of worship

Precautionary measures that are in place to contain the spread of the virus have pushed places of worships to temporarily part from various familiar religious practices.

Amid a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city, temples, churches, mosques, and other places of worship have adopted various ‘new normal practices’, though devotees are still adjusting to them. Precautionary measures that are in place to contain the spread of the virus have pushed places of worships to temporarily part from various familiar religious practices.

Departing from the tradition during the Holy Communion, the consecrated bread or wafer is now being dropped into the hands of the communicants. “The Communion is received on the tongue. But due to these unprecedented circumstances, it is now received in the hands with safe distance maintained,” said J.A. Kantharaj, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bangalore. He said that earlier, those who could not come to churches, especially the sick, were given Communion in their homes once a week. “That practice has now been temporarily stopped,” he said.

Kuldeep Singh, secretary, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, said the karah prasad at gurudwaras that were distributed by hands were now being given through spoons. “Devotees are just getting used to it and some demand that it be distributed by hands,” he said. Maqsood Imran, Imam of Jamia Masjid at K.R. Market, said those attending prayers were asked to bring their own ‘janamaz’ (prayer mats). “Standing shoulder to shoulder was a must during congregational prayers. However, we are now maintaining social distancing and will continue till normalcy is restored,” he said.

Govindraj V. of the ancient Someshwara temple in Halasuru, said teertha and prasada were not being distributed at the temple. “Every Monday, we used to distribute milk. This has not resumed ever since we have opened the temple,” he said, adding them they get enquiries about distribution of prasada.

Meanwhile, ISKCON, which recently reopened for the public, is serving prasada. “Kichdi is generally served in leaf cups as prasada.

We are maintaining the temperature of the prasada above 70 degree Celsius, keeping them in hot cases at the place where it is served,” said a representative from ISKCON. He added that those who serve the prasada maintain distance, wear masks and gloves, and frequently sanitise their hands.

Gearing up for the festivals

With Dasara and Deepavali around the corner, temples are making elaborate arrangements to maintain and manage crowds. The Dodda Basavanagudi Managing Committee has written to the Muzarai Department seeking information on celebrating the famous Kadlekai Parishe, which falls on December 13-14.

Ravishankar G.N. of the committee said: “We do not know whether we will be allowed to publicly celebrate the Parishe which falls on the last Monday of Kartika Masa, which will begin in mid November. Based on the department’s reply, we will make arrangements,” he said.

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