Temples reopen in Himachal Pradesh amid strict Covid-19 guidelines
After more than two months, temples in Himachal Pradesh opened for devotees on Thursday.
With Covid-19 cases on a decline, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet decided to reopen religious places, which were closed due to the second wave, but people were asked to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Few devotees turned up in major temples across the state with strict guidelines being enforced at Jwalamukhi, Chamunda Nandikeshwar, Brajeshwari, Baijnath and Mahakal temples. More rush was witnessed in temples in areas bordering Punjab, such as Naina Devi in Bilaspur and Chintpurni in Una district.
Omkar Vyas, a priest at the Chamunda temple, said that devotees were being allowed to pay obeisance in strict compliance with the guidelines issued by the state government. “There wasn’t much crowd today as it’s the first day. There were more devotees from outside Himachal,” he said.
Jwalamukhi Temple officer Nirmal Singh said only darshan (paying obeisance) is allowed at the shrine and a record of the devotees is being maintained. No gatherings for kirtan, bhajan or jagratas are allowed yet. Masks are a must and social distancing is being maintained. “The devotees shall not touch bells, idols or railings and entry to the sanctum sanctorum and physical offerings shall remain prohibited,” he said, adding the footfall was normal on Day 1. “We are expecting a rush during the weekend when tourists head uphill,” Singh added.
Priest Kapil Sharma said the reopening of temples has brought cheer to local shopkeepers for whom business had been crippled during the pandemic.