The COVID third wave is approaching and cases of dengue and malaria are also increasing but their symptoms are different this time. Therefore, such patients must undergo COVID-19 test,” Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on rising cases of infectious disease in the state.
Earlier, workers, senior leaders and former ministers from the opposition BJP staged protests in several cities in Maharashtra against the MVA government’s stand to not reopen temples that remain shut due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The protests, organized by the Aadhyatmik Aghadi (spiritual wing) of the BJP, were held in Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Palghar, Nashik, Nagpur, Pandharpur, Aurangabad and other places where agitators rang bells and blew conches.
Replying to the ruckus created by opposition leaders Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “If you want to protest, protest against Corona. Some people are rushing to reopen some establishments. I request them to wait for some more time because we don’t want to open them and then close again if the situation gets worse.”
The chief minister further stated even though the second wave of COVID-19 is “under control”, there is a slight increase in the number of daily cases in the last few days. “We have to avoid crowding… have patience. We should not be required to close the places which have been opened up now,” he said. Thackeray said people should know that the “enemy is yet not completely defeated… the thick tail is still there.”
Afternoon Voice spoke to some temple trustees, priests and Mawlawi of Mosques about their reactions to the closure of religious places in Maharashtra, is what they had to say.
Hemant Jadhav, Manager at Mumbadevi Mandir Trust said, “Devotees should get Darshan without any restrictions on them. We have kept the Mumbadevi Temple closed as per government orders. It is not that Pooja and daily worships don’t take place in the temple. But people are unhappy. Last year the Mandir was opened between 17 November to 25 December, now markets are open yet temple gates are closed.”
“Temples were closed even during Chaturmas, the pujaris are facing financial problems due to this decision of the government. The state government is treating our pujari’s as if they belong to Telangana. Temples should be opened gradually with limited time slots for Darshan,” said Pramod Pandit Joshi, Spokesperson of Hindu Mahasabha.
“Hinduism is based on belief, people get confidence from temples, this gets disturbed. Temple implies indoor and outdoor employment. In India temples are the second biggest employment generators, now they all are facing losses. We feed about 500 orphaned and homeless children; due to the restrictions they were left without Annadaan. All other places like markets and public transports are fully crowded than why do only temples have to be kept closed?” said Gurunath Guruji of Balaji Mandir Trust (Charkop).
“The shopkeepers selling pooja needs, sweets outside and inside of temple premises are facing hardships since the government has decided to close down temples in the state. We have strictly closed the Darshan to each and everyone, including the VIPs. We also had to reduce the priests and security personnel’s to cope up with the financial issues,” Rajesh Patel, Supervisor of Mahalaxmi Mandir (Mumbai).
“Tulja Bhavani Mandir is closed for two years now, many dependent on the temple and tourism are leaving the town in search of bread and butter. Many pooja shops and mithai shop owners have sold their shops and homes due to the financial crunch. The government has not rendered any help to us or the shopkeepers. The temple alone feeds about half of the town, the government should give ear to our woes,” said Balaji Tone, Priest of Tuljapur Bhavani Temple (Tuljapur).
“I am an authorized MCGM Bada Kabrastan undertaking ritual official. For 6 months all mosques were open, then the second wave arrived. Right now, outside the Masjid in the market, there is overcrowding. Let me know the prayer house entertain the corona or tell me does the market gives ground to it? It is Rush that increases it. I have written to CM and the Municipal Commissioner and many Islamic delegates to help the society out of this. My belief will say that labour bores a fruit,” said Shoaib Khatif, Chairman Jama Masjid Bombay.
Maulana Mufti Ashpaq Kazi, Chand Committee Member, said “People go to Gurudwara, Mandir, Church or Masjid to offer their prayers. In every Prayer house, there are etiquettes and a state has laws. We should walk in hand together to help the City and Nation out of this calamity. Trains are running, the markets are open and only lockdown on worship places. This is creating a socio-psychological problem among the masses. The poor are dying in poverty. You give us guidelines of SOP will wear masks and sanitize ourselves with cleanser. Why close Godly institutions?”
“The worshippers should not be restricted. At Haji Ali 30 to 40 thousand devotees bow themselves every day. Now the situation is only the hospitality staff and the ritualists are present. This is the place where faith evolves and when you shut it off, definitely a psychological problem develops and this is dangerous. You give us the prohibits and norms to follow by which we will keep the maintenance and prevention measures healthy. We are ready to take precautions,” said Suhail Yacoob Khandwani, Haji Ali Dargah Trustee.