Hyderabad: Even as mosques in Kuwait have changed their azaan (call to prayer) in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, here in Hyderabad many religious institutions have followed suit by changing some of their practices.
Take churches for instance. On a normal day, the head priests of Catholic churches in Hyderabad would place the holy communion (communion wafers) on the mouth of the devotees. However, as a precautionary measure, churches are now giving the communion on in the hands of the devotees. But many Christians are apprehensive about this new practice. “People are not really happy with this because the holy communion is not supposed to be touched by hand. But we have asked them to take it in their left hand and place it in the right and then have it,” said Roydin Roach, Telangana state president of All India Catholic Union.
Furthermore, churches have started sprinkling holy water on the devotees instead of placing it at the entrance. Earlier, churches kept the holy water font at the entrance where people could dip their hands and draw the sign of the cross. “Sprinkling the holy water would reduce people’s contact with it,” added Roydin.
Meanwhile, gurudwaras have also asked people to reduce public gatherings. Speaking to Newsmeter, Baldev Singh Bagga, president of Gurudwara Saheb Secunderabad, said, “We have asked families of the bride and groom to bring only close people for weddings. Marriage bookings have also been stopped to limit gatherings.” The gurudwara also distributed free masks in the Secunderabad area as the city constantly faces a shortage of essential commodities.
While the call for prayers in Hyderabadi mosques has not changed, an official associated with the community said, “It would be sensible to keep away from congregations at this point in time. The leaders of the community will soon take a decision as to how to prevent large gatherings.”
However, even amid the Corona virus scare the number of devotees has not reduced in religious places. For example, in Chilkur Balaji temple, devotees thronged to the sacred place like on any normal Sunday. C. S Rangarajan, head priest of the temple, said, “Lord Balaji will protect us from this disease, so why should I close the temple? People should take precautionary measures. In the end, humanity and social awareness will help the most,” he said.