Religious places across Maharashtra are reopening for devotees to offer prayers from Monday after several months of closure due to the lockdown imposed in a bid to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) had on Saturday informed that all religious places including temples, shrines, churches, dargahs, etc in the state will be allowed to reopen for devotees from November 16.
Notably, the prominent religious places across the state including Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, the Mahim Dargah in Mumbai and the Dagdusheth Halwai Temple in Pune have been prepared for their reopening to the devotees.
The gates of the places of worship were opened after midnight for the management officials to clean and sanitise the premises ahead of its reopening for devotees to offer early morning prayers.
“After midnight, the doors of the Dargah Sharif were opened and the management officials entered the premises. After cleaning, the dargah will be opened for devotees for early morning Namaz,” Mahim Dargah trustee Suhail Y Khandwani said.
Mr Khandwani also urged the people to cooperate with the government and Dargah management to ensure people get to offer prayers without risking more exposure to COVID-19.
“People have been waiting for over eight months. Government SOP and internal SOP of the dargah will be followed. We have put up boards with government and Dargah SOPs. Only those with facemasks will be allowed inside the premises and their temperature will be recorded before entry,” he said.
The Dagdusheth Halwai Temple in Pune has also carried out a complete sanitisation process for the temple premises and made arrangements for the adherence to COVID-19 protocol.
Speaking to ANI, Sunil Rasne, deputy president of the temple trust said, “For now we will not be allowing devotees to wait outside or offer prasad and flowers here. They are only allowed to take darshan and leave the place immediately.”
The management of the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi said it will only allow visitors inside the premises after an online booking for a specific time slot.
“Devotees who want to visit will have to do online booking to get a time-slot for the ”darshan”. Along with this, people will also have to show a COVID-negative RT-PCR result at the gate. Senior citizens, children and pregnant women will not be allowed to enter the temple,” a representative of the temple management said.
“We have made arrangements to control the crowd at the temple. People will be allotted time slots online for visit. Only 6,000 people will be allowed to enter the temple in a day. The temple will only remain open for 14 hours,” the representative added.
Religious places across the state have remained shut since March this year, when the Central government imposed a complete lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.