The Karnataka government has decided to open all the temples in the state from June 1, keeping social distancing and other norms in place. The state government hinted on the decision on Tuesday, May 26, although the final decision will be taken following the Centre's releases of its guidelines once the fourth phase of the lockdown ends on May 31.
Temples to be opened
All the temples in Karnataka have been closed for more than two months now since the Centre announced the strict implementation of the nation-wide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although daily rituals and pujas were done by the priests in the temples, no public was allowed to enter the temple premises.
If the temples are let open from June 1, the authorities should maintain strict protocol to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure the health safety of the devotees.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. He said that the government's plan is to allow all 'sevas' (rituals) at the temples once they are open, but depending on the situation, they will be limited to a few.
According to state minister Kota Srinivas Poojary, "We have had discussions with the Chief Minister regarding Muzrai department, during which it was decided to open temples from June 1." The ministry has but decided not to conduct any temple fairs or such events under this scenario as it can welcome mass gatherings of people.
As the trains, flight services, and vehicular movements have started widely in the state, several devotees have been approaching the government and ministry to consider the reopening of temples and religious institutions. Over 34,000 temples belong in the state under the Muzrai department.
According to the sources, the decision is also applicable for mosques, churches and other places of religious worship as well. However, this decision will be subject to whether or not the Centre will allow places of religious worship to reopen for the public after lockdown 4.0, said an official.
App for booking sevas
In addition to this, the Chief Minister also launched an app-based online booking of sevas in 52 Muzrai temples from Wednesday.
These include most of the prominent temples in the state viz. Sri Mookambika Temple in Kollur, Kukke Sri Subramanya Temple, Renuka Yellamma Temple in Saundatti, Banashankari Temple and Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple in Bengaluru among others.
"This means that citizens can book seva online. A few temples had this facility already. In the last one year, the Kukke Subramanya had 32,000 Sarpa Samskaras via online booking. In the Kollur temple, some 3,000 sevas were booked online. In the Chamundeshwari temple, sevas worth Rs 49 lakh were booked online," added Poojary.