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Coronavirus outbreak: Will reduce number of devotees, not possible to shut down mosques, says community members

By Yesha Kotak, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 19, 2020 12:49 AM IST

Almost a week after leaders from the Muslim community announced that they have requested people not to crowd mosques during Friday prayers; they have told the police and municipal authorities that it is not possible to shut down the mosques to devotees.

“If we shut the mosque, it will be against Shariat. However, we have left the final decision to our religious scholars,” said Sohail Khandwani, managing trustee of Mahim dargah.

At a meeting with community representatives at the Mumbai Police headquarters on Wednesday, government authorities asked them to not hold Friday prayers.

The Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi and municipal health department officials were present at the meeting. They were told that while mosque trusts will try to reduce the number of devotees on Friday, it was not possible to shut down the mosques and dargahs completely.

Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi, general secretary, All-India Ulema Council (Mumbai), an association of religious scholars, said, “We have told people to perform Wudu (the ritual washing of hands and feet before prayers) at home and maintain cleanliness in the place of worship. Also, all imams have been asked to reduce the time of namaz,” said Daryabadi. However, some dargahs have asked devotees to not touch or kiss the mazar - tomb.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Bombay has exempted the community members from attending Sunday masses until March 31. The church has asked the sick to avoid going to the churches. The Archbishop of Bombay has suspended all services at churches, except masses, and has asked not more than 50 members to be present for it.

“There is an obligation for all Catholics to attend the Sunday mass, but we have relaxed that obligation so that there are fewer people present for the mass,” said Nigel Barrett, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay.

The Seth RN Rustomframna Agiary, Zoroastrian fire temple at Dadar, sent out a message informing community members that they were closing the entrance to agiary from Tuesday night onwards. “On the request of the Matunga Police Station. Boi and other regular ceremonies will go on as usual,” read a message by Nasha R Jassawalla, managing trustee of agiary.

The main Hindu temples in the city - Siddhivinayak, Mahalaxmi and Mumbadevi have announced that the shrines will be closed to devotees though priests will conduct scheduled prayers.

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