As the centers for worship in the state opened its door for the devotees after months of closure, the Karnataka government has released its new set of guidelines for mosques, churches, and other religious places.
According to state minorities and welfare department official, "The new guidelines specify do's and don'ts to be followed at all places of religious worship, including mosques, darghas, churches, gurudwaras, Jain, Buddhist and Parsi temples across the state to ensure hygiene and social distancing to prevent the coronavirus spread."
Preventive measures to be ensured
All the churches and mosques should mandatorily disinfect its premises before and after devotees offering prayers. The mosques should ensure proper sanitisation after each namaz, while churches should not encourage receiving Holy Communion during mass so as to maintain cleanliness.
"The old guidelines were to keep all religious places of worship shut down during the extended lockdown since May 25 to prevent coronavirus spread across the state," the official recalled.
"The guidelines have been framed in accordance as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Union Health and Family Welfare to contain the Covid-19 spread. Thermal screening to prevent the entry of symptomatic persons and installing closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) to monitor the guidelines are being followed by all the authorities have been made mandatory," he added.
All the devotees are permitted to enter only with wearing masks. They should also clean their hands with sanitiser before entering the place of worship and maintaining at least two feet distance.
Separate guidelines for mosques
Meanwhile, the Wakf Board has issued separate guidelines to all mosques and darghas across the state for compliance.
"The devout have been advised to perform 'wazu' (ablution) at their home and carry mats to the mosque to kneel for prayers, as the imams have been told to avoid common carpets and disinfect the premises at regular intervals and stagger timings for Friday prayers when more throng the place," said the official.
According to the guidelines, the mosque management committees have been advised to complete the Friday afternoon prayers within 15 minutes instead of the usual 30 minutes. The mosque authorities can keep its premises open for all five daily prayers, but the darghas can remain open only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday prayers in churches allowed
According to the official, the norms allow churches to hold Sunday mass with social distancing by limiting the number of devotees inside and make arrangements for others to pray from around the church under shelter.
Although, the use of candles, sprinkling of water, use of liturgical books and hymnals are not allowed inside the church premises.
Holy Communion, on the other hand, can be received by the Bishops and Fathers on hand for the time being. The masses can be live-streamed as before because a large gathering of devotees to take part in the mass is an explicit violation of social distancing norms.
For Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religious centers
Sikh priests of Gurudwaras have also been directed to reduce the timings of their prayers. This includes the reading of Gurbani holy book or reciting 'kirtans' and singing 'bhajans'. Gurudwaras can hold their prayer sessions in three batches during Sunday, according to the guidelines.
The Jain basadis and Buddhist viharas too should complete their prayer sessions early. Distribution of prasadams to the devotes is strictly prohibited.