The Dakshina Kannada district administration has ordered places of worship such as temples, churches and mosques to indefinitely suspend all cultural and religious ceremonies. This is being done as a preventive measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, and came into effect from Tuesday.
The district administration has also barred the conduct of fairs, processions, mass-weddings and any other social-cultural programs that will encourage public gathering.
Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Sindhu P Rupesh told the media on Tuesday that group entry to places of worship is prohibited. “Except for authorities in places of worship, groups cannot enter the premise in the interest of public safety. Individual visitors will not be able to avail prayer requests or special services (seva) from the religious authorities. Even boarding and lodging services have been stopped at the religious sites,” she said.
The order by the district administration also bars any form of summer camps, conventions, conferences and mass-weddings at religious premises. “In case of private weddings, the parties have been advised to keep it simple and have a limited crowd,” she said.
Despite being a period where they attract thousands of people, the Shree Kshetra Dharmasthala and Kukke Subramanya earlier advised people to refrain from visiting temples. On Monday, even the Polali Goddess Rajarajeshwari temple said that it would stop offering holy water to devotees as a precautionary measure.
In the backdrop of Lent season that began on February 26, Udupi Bishop Gerald Isaac Lobo had advised the parish priest to create awareness among parishioners about COVID-19. He also urged people, especially those coming from abroad, to avoid travel.
“Even at churches in Mangaluru, we have been told not to touch the holy water,” Jacintha, a parishioner from Bejai church in Mangaluru city said. “In most places, they have emptied it. Even the bread offered during the communion (a Christian rite) is given in our hands and not in the mouth. We are also told to fold our hands in namaste, instead of giving a handshake or a hug as a greeting.”
Kabir, a resident of Ullal in Mangaluru, said that despite enhancing hygiene and keeping a vigil on visitors for close to a fortnight, mosques have asked followers to offer namaz in their houses. “This is to set aside unnecessary concerns and in the well-being of the people, especially as there is a huge gathering for Friday prayers,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Sindhu also said on Tuesday that over 35,000 passengers have been screened at the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) and the seaport. “Dakshina Kannada has about 177 quarantine wards and 226 isolation wards, where 115 patients are being monitored and 36 have been tested negative,” she said.