Coronavirus scare: Temples and dargahs not leaving anything to chance

Updated: Mar 14, 2020, 08:13 IST | Vishal Singh, Faizan Khan, Shirish Vaktania | Mumbai

With the fear of contracting the virus firmly gripping Mumbaikars, religious heads have decided to adopt a cautious approach when it comes to allowing devotees into places of worship

Devotees use hand sanitizers before entering the shrine at Siddhivinayak temple on Friday. Pic/Atul Kamble
Devotees use hand sanitizers before entering the shrine at Siddhivinayak temple on Friday. Pic/Atul Kamble

With three confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mumbai and one in neighbouring Thane, even the almighty is not taking any chances. Hence, to avoid any spread of the virus, the Siddhivinayak temple has made concrete arrangements on behalf of the trust.

With around 70 to 80 thousand devotees visiting the temple each day, the administration has put up hand sanitisers at the entrance of the temple. Every devotee coming to the temple has to clean their hands using the sanitiser before entering the shrine. Apart from this, the administration has started cleaning the temple from within, the boundary walls and the iron grilles every two hours leaving no stone unturned.

Apart from this, the administration has handed over masks to all their employees, priests and the 150 police personnel who have been deployed near the temple which is mandatory to be worn during working hours. Also, to avoid the spread of virus through touch, the administration has stopped using its bio-metric attendance system.

Siddhivinayak temple employee wears a protective mask on Friday.  Pic/Atul KambleSiddhivinayak temple employee wears a protective mask on Friday. Pic/Atul Kamble

Priyanka Kulkarni, CEO of Siddhivinayak Mandir Trust told mid-day, "The steps are being taken as precautionary measures and awareness. There is no need to panic about the Coronavirus. We just need to be careful."

Kulkarni further pointed out that there has been a sharp dip in the number of daily visitors to the shrine due to the virus fears.

Dharmendra Patel, who owns a flower shop outside the temple, told mid-day, "The number of devotees coming to visit the temple has come down, 100 to 125 devotees used to buy flowers from my shop daily, but now it is about 70 to 80 per day."

Ganesh Mapuskar who was found using a pen to operate the buttons in the lift. Pic/Atul KambleGanesh Mapuskar who was found using a pen to operate the buttons in the lift. Pic/Atul Kamble

It's not just the temples that have taken the precautionary measures to stay safe. Mumbai's historic Mahim Dargah too has taken up all the necessary precautions since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Here, too, before one can enter the dargah, the administration has made it mandatory for devotees to clean their hands using sanitisers. Moreover, the dargah officials are telling people to not touch the resting place of a Sufi saint, Makhdoom Ali Mahimi.

"Since a week we have been taking precautions as large number of devotees visit every day, especially on Thursday and Friday. Sanitisers have been made available at the entry point. We are further advising people to refrain from coming to dargah in large groups," Noor Parkar, research and librarian at Mahim dargah said.

Similar steps have been undertaken by several other mosques across the city where people go to offer Namaz (prayers) five times a day.

Hand sanitiser and a tissue box kept outside Mahim dargah on Friday. Pic/Suresh Karkera Hand sanitiser and a tissue box kept outside Mahim dargah on Friday. Pic/Suresh Karkera 

With 17 positive cases of COVID-19 across Maharashtra, citizens across Mumbai have taken a cautious approach.

To know the ground reality, mid-day reporters went to several places and found people avoiding touching lifts and ATMs buttons. Instead, to avoid direct contact, people were seen using pens, keys, gloves and napkins to press the desired buttons.

When the reporter spoke to a man named Ganesh Mapuskar, whom was using a pen to press the buttons in an elevator at Borivli station, he said, "I am going to Andheri to attend meeting with clients. Due to virus fears I am not touching the lift buttons and hence using a pen. The railways should actually take responsibility and keep an attendant in lifts to operate it so people can avoid touching buttons."

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