Amid Covid-19 Lockdown, Religious Rituals and Ceremonies Take on a Digital Avatar | Latest India News

In the wake of the national lockdown due to the coronavirus, many religious places have connected to stay in touch with their worshipers.

Those who started their day with a temple tour are now performing online darshan to start their day. Most of the temples in Uttar Pradesh are webcast artis, darshans and other rituals.

“We are under full lockdown, but we are trying to keep in touch with the faithful who continue to call us to play. pujas inside the temples as before. We just tell them to wait a little longer. They can go online to our Facebook page or in the evening arti is broadcast on the web, ”said Mahant Divya Giri, chief priest of Mankameshwar temple.

Worshipers at the Golden Temple, a famous Sikh shrine in the Punjab, who are unable to physically visit the holy site have turned to the live broadcast of kirtan on Facebook to stay in touch with the centuries-old rituals that are traditionally performed there.

Guardians of the Faith, including grant it (Sikh priests), ragis (traditional Gurbani singers) and sewadars (people who render their services by performing rituals), start their day at 2 a.m. for Amrit vela (dawn) ceremony which begins with the opening of the kiwars (doors of darshani deori). The rituals continue until 11:00 p.m.

Previously, the kirtan was broadcast for a few hours morning and evening on a private channel which also shared it on its Facebook page. Since confinement is imposed, the kirtan is broadcast throughout the day on a newly created FB page, allowing the faithful to listen to the kirtan at home while being locked up.

The Chief Secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Roop Singh, said: “Millions of devotees are listening kirtan through live streaming online across the world ”. The SGPC, which manages the affairs of the sanctuary, provided non-stop live audio broadcasting of kirtan on its official website for many years.

In Uttarakhand, after the portals of three of Char Dham’s shrines opened amid the lockdown, priests said they would opt for digital worship / webcasting if necessary, especially in case the lockdown would continue and pilgrims could not attend.

The Char Dham yatra, which continues for six months, attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists to the state from all over the world. The portals to Gangotri and Yamunotri Shrine opened on April 26 while the portals to Kedarnath Shrine opened on April 29. The portals of Badrinath Sanctuary will open on May 15th.

Deepak Semwal, secretary of the Gangotri Dham committee said that even without pilgrims, the rituals will continue according to tradition.

Semwal said, however, that pilgrims will have the opportunity to reserve prayer slots online during these difficult times when they cannot come for the pilgrimage to Char Dham shrines. He said digital and online methods are some of the safest options these days.

“If the pilgrims cannot reach the shrines and wish to offer prayers, then they can book slots online and see the ritual and prayers offered here. We have facilities for digital worship and will use them as needed. We will not be able to broadcast the rituals in progress in the sanctum sanctorum as photography or videography is not allowed, but pilgrims can see other rituals, ”Semwal said.

In Himachal Pradesh, Baba Balak Nath temple, Deotsidh trusts live webcasts arti twice a day. Temple official OP Lakhanpal said viewership varies and on average there are 2,000 to 3,000 attendees per day.

“Offers and donations during the lockdown were negligible. The month-long Chaitra fairs have also been canceled, which will lead to a drop in overall annual income, ”he said.

At Chamunda Temple in Kangra, Suman Dhiman said that previously, the temple trust had hired a private company to webcast the arti which is performed twice a day. However, the same has now been stopped because the cost was high. However, a television channel broadcasts the arti daily all alone.

In the states of Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in southern India, no live broadcasts of rituals at important temples like the temples of Guruvayur, Sabarimala and Sree Padmanabha Swami are performed.

Even when there was Chandanotsavam, an important religious ritual at the famous Simhachalam temple in Visakhapatnam on April 27, no webcast was made. Only a few priests and the president of the board of directors attended.

The rituals are quite different in southern and northern India. In the south, only priests are allowed to enter the inner enclosure of the sanctum sanctorum.

Not only the temples but the Islamic Center of India Darul Uloom Farangi Mahal also broadcasts the evening live. Taraweeh (pray). The Director of the Islamic Center of India, Darul Uloom Farangii Mahal Maulana Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali, said: “Yes, we have started to webcast the namaz on our Facebook page because it’s not fair for people to come together in one place. This is the first time that we have not allowed any gatherings at the Idgah Mosque, which is why we have decided to broadcast the evening prayers on the web.

Meanwhile, churches in Uttar Pradesh are also holding Sunday Mass on Facebook pages. “Technology is a blessing from God and we are using it to reach members of our church. Even on Good Friday, the sermons were delivered without any gathering, ”said Father Donald De Souza, pastor of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hazratganj.

The webcasting of rituals and practices has also resulted in lower revenues for religious places like the Golden Temple of Amritsar. From an average collection of offers of Rs 23 lakh per day (Rs 85 crore for the year, including those received online) in 2019-2020, its collection during the curfew fell to between 10,000 and 15,000 Rs a day, said a SGPC official. who did not want to be quoted. The Golden Temple experiences an average daily attendance of 1 lakh of worshipers, which has now dropped to around 1,000 per day, with worshipers mainly coming from areas near the shrine.

Ruth R. Culp