Dewasom board to reopen over 1,000 shrines in KeralaUpdated: Aug 12, 2020 23:46 IST
The Travancore Dewasom Board (TDB) on Wednesday announced that except the Sabarimala hill temple, it will reopen 1,000-odd shrines it runs across south Kerala from Monday. The reopening of the temples, which were shut because of the Covid-19 pandemic in March, will coincide with the Malayalam New Year.
Officials said Sabarimala’s reopening could lead to a steady stream of devotees from the neighbouring states and affect the ongoing Covid-19 control measures. TDB had earlier planned to allow devotees, who have made online bookings after furnishing Covid-free certificates, to visit the hill shrine. But a large number of inquiries regarding the temple’s reopening forced the TDB to defer the reopening, for now, the officials added.
“We are planning to open all temples with Ganapati Homam [special offering for Lord Ganapati] on August 17 [Monday]. The special offering will mark the auspicious occasion. There will be a strict tab on devotees and entry will be restricted under the Covid-19 protocol,” said TDB president N Vasu. He requested the elderly and children under 10 to avoid visiting temples.
Vasu said they have suffered an estimated loss of Rs 400 crore due to closure of temples over the last five months.
Religious places reopened in June across the country for the first time in over 70 days as the Centre eased the curbs that were imposed to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many temples, churches, and mosques in Kerala deferred reopening in view of a spurt in Covid-19 cases in June. Some churches and mosques were opened on special occasions but temples remained closed.
Many temple bodies made provisions for virtual offerings to deal with losses they suffered but failed to attract devotees. TDB was forced to utilise revenue from the Sabarimala temple to fund smaller temples in south Kerala and to pay salaries of its 3,500-odd employees. With Sabarimala’s closure, many temple employees were forced to take salary cuts.
At another major shrine, Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayur, the monthly donations collection were anywhere between Rs four to five crore. Besides money, it would often get gold, silver, diamond offerings. Daily pujas also contributed to enough money. Though the temple publicised its online offering, it failed to attract devotees. “With the devotees’ return, we hope the financial position will improve,” said a temple official on condition of anonymity.