New norms for reopening mosques, churches in Karnataka

Karnataka government issued new guidelines to be followed by mosques, churches and other religious places, which reopened on Monday across the southern state under ‘Unlock 1’, an official said

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media


The Karnataka government issued new guidelines to be followed by mosques, churches and other religious places, which reopened on Monday across the southern state under 'Unlock 1', an official said on Tuesday.

"The new guidelines specify do's and don'ts to be followed at all places of religious worship, including mosques, darghas, churches, gurudwaras, Jain, Buddhist and Parsi temples across the state to ensure hygiene and social distancing to prevent the coronavirus spread," state minorities and welfare department official told IANS.

The do's include disinfecting daily mosques before and after offering prayers (namaz) and curbs on receiving Holy Communion during mass at churches to maintain cleanliness and ensure safety of the devotees.

"The old guidelines were to keep all religious places of worship shutdown during the extended lockdown since May 25 to prevent coronavirus spread across the state," the official recalled.

"The guidelines have been framed in accordance as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union Health and Family Welfare to contain the Covid-19 spread," reiterated the official.

Wearing mask, washing hands with sanitizer before entering the place of worship and maintaining at least two feet distance are mandatory for all shrines.

"Thermal screening to prevent entry of symptomatic persons and installing closed circuit television cameras (cctv) to monitor the guidelines are being followed by all the authorities have been made mandatory," asserted the official.

The Wakf Board has also issued separate guidelines to all mosques and darghas across the state for compliance.

"The devout have been advised to perform 'wazu' (ablution) at their home and carry mats to the mosque to kneel for prayers, as the imams have been told to avoid common carpets and disinfect the premises at regular intervals and stagger timings for Friday prayers when more throng the place," added the official.

The mosque management committees have been advised to complete the Friday afternoon prayers in 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes and keep the premises open for all five daily prayers, while darghas will remain open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"The norms allow churches to hold Sunday mass with social distancing by limiting the number of devotees inside and make arrangements for others to pray from around the church under shelter," noted the official.

Use of candles, sprinkling of water, use of liturgical books and hymnals are not allowed. Bishops and fathers will receive the Holy Communion on hand for the time being.

"We have advised all the churches to live stream the masses to restrict devotees gathering in large numbers and violating the social distancing," said the official.

Sikh priests of Gurudwaras have been directed to reduce timings of prayers, reading of the Gurbani holy book or reciting 'kirtans' and singing 'bhajans'.

"Gurudwaras have been advised to hold their prayer sessions in three batches during Sunday to avoid crowding in their premises," added the official.

Similarly, Jain basadis and Buddhist viharas have been told to complete their prayer sessions early and avoid distributing prasadam.

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