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Worship places closed to tackle Coronavirus

In a hope to contain the spread of Coronavirus in Mumbai, many religious leaders have modified their rituals. Not only that, but the temples and other religious worshipping places have been closed for an indefinite period. Mumbai is taking more drastic measures, cancelling worship services, closing religious places and shutting holy sites. In such a distress situation, temple is the only place of worship that gives positive vibes to provide a panic person some solace. But the Government and the temple trusts believe that the public gathering can create hindrance in protecting people from the spread of Coronavirus. Due to concerns over the global spread of the dreaded disease, especially in nearby places, temporary suspended visit to its holy sites. The Mahalakshmi Mandir, Mumbadevi Mandir and the Siddhivinayak Temple will remain closed for some time. Even the churches and mosques have been closed for public prayers.

Millions of Muslims visit the Saudi kingdom around the year for Haj pilgrimage but the current travel restrictions prevent the entry of both overseas pilgrims and Saudi citizens into the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. This has had a direct impact on the Umrah pilgrimage known as the “lesser pilgrimage,” that can be performed at almost any time of the year. Whether or not the restrictions will extend to the haj which begins around July 28, can be known only after it becomes clear how long the Coronavirus outbreak will last. Both the Umrah and haj are important pilgrimages for Muslims, but they differ in many respects.

Other than religious places, the city has closed all malls, gyms and movie theaters. Sports leagues, museums and other cultural institutions, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and gurdwaras have been temporarily closed to guard against spreading the virus. For many spiritual leaders, the decision to shut their doors is difficult. Religious rituals are meant to be enacted, soul and body, traditionally alongside other believers. But the present dangers of the deadly virus have forced many religious groups to close their place of worship. This move has led to cancellations worldwide in the last 48 hours.

Vatican announced that the Holy Week celebrations in Rome, events that typically draw thousands of pilgrims from around the world would be closed to the public because of the “current global public health emergency”. But with Easter, Ramadan, Passover and other holy days approaching, Coronavirus will undoubtedly upend religious lives in 2020. For many Muslim men, group prayers on Friday are a religious obligation. But as congregations across the country and the world weighed whether to stay open, experts in Islamic law have stepped in.

Together with Muslim medical experts, the society has strongly recommended that congregations take precautions against the pandemic including immediately suspending congregational prayers and other community gatherings. Muslims in Kuwait, Germany, Iran and other places around the world have also suspended services as of Friday. Some Muslim leaders in America have urged their communities to be prepared for a protracted fight against Coronavirus. In non-hierarchical religions, like Judaism and Buddhism, local congregations are making their own decisions or looking to scholars for advice. The Rabbinical Assembly, which issues opinions on Jewish law for Conservative movement Jews, advised following civil and medical guidance. It also advised engaged Jews to postpone their weddings, if possible.

The Rabbinical Council of America which issues guidelines for Orthodox Jews modified its guidance as the week wore on. The Council said that public gatherings in synagogues and schools should be severely limited. (They also noted the decision of rabbis in Bergen County, New Jersey, to shut down services and gatherings.) The Coronavirus threat and state and county-imposed cap on large gatherings hasn’t just impacted the Bay Area’s museums, sports arenas, businesses and schools. Churches, temples and mosques are cancelling services and shabbat, postponing events and live streaming services, prayers and dharma talks. People have been asked to remain at home, work from and avoid mingling in public events. This is not the first time diseases have impacted pilgrimages. Cholera outbreaks in 1821 and 1865 claimed thousands of lives during haj. In 2012 and 2013, Saudi authorities encouraged the ill and the elderly not to undertake the pilgrimage amid concerns over Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. While the recent decision to halt Umrah will disappoint Muslims looking to perform the pilgrimage, they might refer to a hadith that provides guidance about travelling during a time of an epidemic. In the meantime, even Hindus may not like getting temple doors closed but one need to understand that saving human lives is a bigger worship. God is going to be in his place even if you return after ages, but once safety is guaranteed when gatherings are controlled, all is going to be well.

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Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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