Temples in Delhi open for Navratri under strict Covid-19 rules

Temple authorities to ensure social distancing among visitors and proper sanitisation of premises

Temples in Delhi open for Navratri under strict Covid-19 rules

Devotees queue up to offer prayers at the Jhandewalan temple on the first day of the nine-day long Navratri festival, in New Delhi on October 7, 2021. — PTI

New Delhi, October 7

The nine-day Navratri celebrations began in temples across Delhi on Thursday with government-mandated Covid-19 protocols in place.

Temple authorities said they have made provisions for proper sanitisation of the premises and to ensure social distancing among visitors.

“Our temple sees lakhs of visitors during Navratri, which is why we will be allowing 2,000 visitors at a time to ensure proper social distancing.

“The devotees will be allowed to do ‘darshan’ from outside the main temple area. The exit and entry points have been clearly demarcated and the visitors will be expected to follow the designated route within the temple,” said Surendra Nath, the chief priest of the Kalkaji temple.

Southeast District Magistrate Vishwendra said 300 CCTV cameras have been instaled around the Kalkaji temple for crowd management and to ensure that visitors follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.

The Chhatarpur temple saw over 15,000 visitors on the first day of Navratri, according to the temple authorities.

“The crowd was definitely less than the pre-Covid times when we would get lakhs of visitors. All COVID-19 protocols were followed. We have installed sanitising tunnels at the entrance of the temple and DRDO-authorised ultraviolet machines have been put up in the main ‘darshan’ area,” said Chattarpur temple CEO Kishor Chawla.

During Navratri, the temple remains open throughout the day except from 2-4 am, when the deity is decked up again, he said.

“It is during these two hours that the UV machines function, killing all kinds of viruses in the area,” he added.

Last week, the Delhi government allowed the reopening of religious places in the city with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures.

At the Birla Mandir too, which saw a footfall of around 3,000 people, celebrations are being held amidst strict Covid-19 protocols.

“We have spoken to the police and all kinds of government-instructed precautions are being followed. Sanitisation facilities will be available at the gate and no devotee will be allowed inside without a mask.

“Circles have been drawn within the premises to ensure that people stand six feet away from each other. Throughout the day, the visitors cooperated and everything went about smoothly,” said Ram Gopal Shukla, media-in-charge, Birla Mandir.

Officials said proper arrangements were made in coordination with temple authorities to ensure the mandatory use of face masks and that social distancing and other Covid-related norms are followed.

For the strict implementation of these measures and to maintain law and order, police and civil defence personnel were also deployed, they said.

Religious places in the National Capital were closed for devotees since April 19 under a lockdown imposed due to the severe second wave of coronavirus infections.

Although the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) order allowed entry there, it prohibited large gatherings.

It also directed the district magistrates and deputy commissioners of police to ensure strict compliance with Covid-19 appropriate behaviour in view of the upcoming festivals. PTI

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