Tamil Nadu opens temples in rural areas for devotees

After more than three months, temples in rural areas of Tamil Nadu allowed devotees today, following a government order announcing relaxations in the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The government issued a Standard Operating Procedure for places of worship in rural areas, outlining norms to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It includes prohibition for “physical offerings like prasad, distribution or sprinkling of holy water to be allowed inside the religious place.”

Offerings such as coconut, fruits and flowers shall not be allowed. During poojas and abishekam, the public must not be allowed to sit inside and witness the event, the SOP said.

The guidelines are for small temples, mosques, darghas, churches and other religious places in rural areas. As per the guidelines, physical offerings like prasad, distribution or sprinkling of holy water will not be allowed inside the religious place.

People above the age of 65 years, those with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 are advised to stay at home. Follow social distancing, use a mask, wash hands and feet with soap and avoid physical contant while greeting.

Shops outside the place of worship must follow norms of social distancing. Recorded devotional songs will be played. No common mats to be used. Offering of prasad or holy water is allowed inside the premises. Prasad will be given in carry home packets. Offering of coconut or flowers will also not be allowed.

Physical distancing of six feet shall be maintained while offering prayers and not more than 20 people can be accommodated in 100 square meters, which shall be marked with paint in circles, rows or boxes. “Staggering of people should be done to avoid crowd and social distancing should be followed, particularly on Friday for Jumma prayers.”