The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced that temples and other places of worship, shut since the coronavirus-induced lockdown in March, will reopen on Monday, PTI reported. Last week, the government allowed schools in the state to reopen for classes 9 to 12 from November 23.
A statement from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said that people have to strictly follow the guidelines and safety protocols. “We can’t forget that the demon coronavirus is still amongst us,” Thackeray said. “Even though this demon is slowly falling silent now, we cannot be complacent. Citizens need to follow discipline.”
The chief minister also stressed on the importance of wearing face masks and urged people to avoid crowds. “Just like discipline and restraint were observed while celebrating Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri and Pandharpur wari [annual pilgrimage], followers of other faiths also celebrated festivals like Eid, Mount Mary festival by keeping the coronavirus safety protocol in mind,” he said. “The reopening of religious places is not a government order, but the wish of the Almighty. Shoes will have to be kept outside the premises.”
The announcement came a few days after the Maharashtra government said a second wave of the pandemic was expected in January or February. A circular said that there should be no complacency in coronavirus testing and all labs would remain functional as per Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines.
Meanwhile, Aadesh Bandekar, Chairman of Shree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust in Mumbai said that a hundred devotees will be allowed every hour in the temple and a maximum of 1,000 of them can visit in a day, ANI reported.
Devotees have to download the temple’s app and fill in the required information,” Bandekar said.
On Saturday, Maharashtra recorded 4,237 new coronavirus cases, taking the state’s tally to 17,44,698. With 105 deaths, the toll rose to 45,914.
The reopening of places of worship in the state triggered a row between the ruling government and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The saffron party had threatened to open temples forcibly if no decision was taken by the government soon.
In a two-page letter in October, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari had asked Thackeray if he had turned “secular” since he had denied permission to reopen the temples in the state amid the coronavirus crisis. In response, Thackeray retorted that he did not need a “Hindutva certificate” from anyone.