With places of worship that have remained closed since March 24 reopening on June 9, temples have prepared protocols for devotees and rituals as prescribed by the State government on the basis of the Centre’s guidelines against the backdrop of COVID-19.
Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) president N. Vasu said on Saturday that posters describing the protocols would be exhibited at the entrance to all temples and Devaswom guards would be deployed to ensure compliance. Only the main entrance would be kept open. Only those wearing masks or face covers would be let in and physical distancing would be ensured. Sanitiser dispensers would be provided.
The TDB owns 1,250 temples, including the Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala, which will be opened for the five-day monthly rituals of Midhunom on June 14 evening.
All devotees should register online for darshan and those from outside Kerala should upload on the website a certificate by an Indian Council of Medical Research-recognised laboratory that they have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.
Children below 10 years and adults above 65 years cannot register on the virtual platform. Darshan will be allowed for 16 hours every day from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Only 50 persons will be permitted on the temple premises and 10 persons at the ‘sopanam’ at a time. Around 200 persons will get darshan in an hour. Devotees can make bookings for ‘aravana’ and ‘appam’ on the website.
The Ayyappa temple will will remain open for 15 days. The 10-day annual festival may be celebrated from June 19 to 28.
The flow of devotees at the Guruvayur Sreekrishna temple will be regulated through online registration, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said. The booking can be done on www.guruvayurdewaswom.com. The token with date and time of darshan will be sent by e-mail. Devotees should reach the queue complex at East Nada 20 minutes ahead of the given time, with token number and identity card. Six-hundred devotees — 150 per hour — will be permitted every day from 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 a.m.
There will be no VIP darshan. Devotees will be allowed in batches of 50. Devotees and temple staff should wear masks. ‘Prasadam,’ ‘teertham’ and ‘nivedyam’ will not be given.
A maximum of 60 weddings will be allowed every day between 5 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. The number of people, including the bride and groom, should be restricted to 10. The ceremony has to be completed in 10 minutes.
1,300 temples in Malabar
Around 1,300 temples under the Malabar Devaswom Board are all set to reopen on June 9 in line with the COVID-19 protocol laid out by the government. The board controls temples in Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Wayanad, Kannur, and Kasaragod districts. K. Murali, Devaswom Commissioner, said the board would abide by the government protocol.
The Cochin Devaswom has conveyed the measures to be taken to the administrators of its 406 temples. Devotees should wear masks and maintain a minimum physical distance of six feet, said K. K Rajan, Deputy Secretary, Cochin Devaswom Board. They must write down their name, age, address and mobile phone number at the point of entry. There will be a separate exit.
The Devaswom authorities have instructed priests not to distribute ‘prasadam’ and ‘teertham’ and desist from sprinkling water on devotees. Priests must mandatorily wear masks.
(With inputs from Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kochi, Thrissur bureaus)