Standard operating procedure prescribed by the government put in place at all shrines
Barring a few, all major places of worship reopened to the public in central districts on Tuesday.
With the standard operating procedure prescribed by the State government in place, temples, churches and mosques/dargahs opened after a gap of over five months.
The move gladdened devotees of different religious faiths who began to trickle in to the shrines to offer prayers by adhering to safety norms.
Elaborate arrangements were put in place ahead of the reopening of temples, churches and mosques to ensure that personal distancing was maintained.
In some major temples, barricades were placed to regulate movement of devotees. Only those wearing masks were allowed inside and devotees were asked to clean their hands with sanitisers.
At Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, devotees were allowed to enter and exit only through the south gopuram. The temple witnessed a steady stream of devotees on day one. Authorities issued tokens to devotees who were allowed to enter the temple in batches.
A senior official of the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments said about 250-300 tokens were issued every hour to ensure that there was sufficient physical distancing inside the shrine.
Most devotees expressed happiness over the opening of the temples.
Lakshmi Suvarna, a native of Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh, was one of them. She said she felt immensely satisfied and extremely happy to see the Lord after a long gap.
“Usually, there is a huge crowd and devotees are asked to move quickly. But this time, there was no such hassle and we could worship the deity peacefully,” said Lakshmi Suvarna, who obtained an e-pass to reach the temple town.
Priests, temple staff and security personnel wore masks and face shields.
Devotees were also subjected to thermal scanning at Arulmigu Mariamman Temple at Samayapuram prior to being allowed inside in batches.
No archana was done at Rockfort Thayumanaswamy Temple in Tiruchi. Devotees were also not given vibuthi. The turnout of devotees at the temple was meagre on Tuesday.
The same was the case at Jambukeswarar Akilandeswari Temple at Tiruvanaikoil. Devotees were allowed to enter and exit only through the main entrance. The rest of the entrances remained closed.
All mosques and dargahs in Tiruchi and other districts in the region also reopened to devotees to offer their prayers.
“In Tiruchi district alone, 4,830 mosques were reopened to devotees to offer prayer,” said K. Jaleel Sulthan, Tiruchi district Government Khazi.
“All 72 churches belonging to the Tiruchi Roman Catholic Diocese were opened to devotees for holy mass in the morning and another in the evening,” said T. Eugene, Vicar General, Tiruchi Roman Catholic Diocese.
Major temples in Thanjavur district, including the Big Temple in Thanjavur Town, opened for public worship.
Devotees were not permitted to take rest or have food inside the temple premises.
Temples in and around Kumbakonam Town including Adhi Kumbeswarar shrine, Oppilliappan Temple and Subramanyaswamy Temple at Swamimalai were all opened for public worship.
However, in Nagapattinam district, Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health and the Nagore Dargah did not open on Tuesday, even as people began to arrive in vehicles after the lifting of e-pass system.
Groups of pilgrims who came to both places had to return disappointed. Those visiting Nagore were told by Dargah authorities that they had to comply with the directive of the district administration, preventing congregation of people.