Thousands of Hindu priests from Maharashtra have become unemployed as various social functions, rituals and religious festivities have either been cancelled or suspended to maintain social distancing during lock down. Amid lockdown there were two major events, one being Rama Navami and other being Gudi Padva, this is business season for Hindu priests. In wake of the coronavirus outbreak, they are in distress with no earnings as rituals usually organized at home have been cancelled while weddings and other social programmes postponed, several temples are closed so the devotees are not visiting temples during the ongoing lockdown.
Mumbai based Priest Prasad Guruji told Afternoon Voice, “We are depending on the earning in the form of Dakshina (donations) by the guests. If there are no pujas and other religious functions in the next few months to prevent gatherings, how the priests like us will survive? We have families and responsibilities; we cannot go and stand in queue for food. Our conditions are not much exposed to people.”
Nitin Guruji from Thane said, “I had several bookings for Navratri, Ram Navmi was biggest event. The coronavirus triggered lockdown has left over many priests across districts jobless. Maintain social distance and following lockdown, we are forced to stay home. But this is high time that government should do something for the priests like us”. He further stated that, “many priests don’t have any other steady income and their families solely depend on their earnings from rituals like pujas, and weddings.”
Another Priest Vivek Guruji told AV, “Our priest fraternity has lost many other contracts in this season,” all the poojas have been cancelled at the last moment in March-end, and that was the beginning. Many families, temples, shopkeepers, traders and businessmen, who usually observe the Ram Navami and Gudi Padva (Hindu New Year) have cancelled their programmes to avoid gatherings and we all gone out of earnings”.
“We struggled to pay a house rent to get the basic provisions. There was neither money nor people’s willingness to conduct festivals”, he added.