New Delhi, Oct 17 (PTI) As the nine-day Navratri festival began on Saturday, devotees offered prayers at various temples of the city in strict adherence to social distancing norms and wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic outbreak.
Some of the temples prohibited offerings like flowers and ‘prasad’ to Goddess Durga on the occasion.
People were seen offering prayers at Jhandewalan Temple and Kalkaji Temple on the first day of Navratri. Morning ‘aarti’ (prayer) was also performed at the temples.
However, some temple in east Delhi saw low footfall of devotees due to the coronavirus scare.
Akhilesh Dwivedi, priest at Sanatan Dharm Mandir at Yojana Vihar in east Delhi, said the temple saw less number of devotees, but hoped that the numbers will increase in the coming days.
'Till 9 am, only 10 to 15 people came. This year, people who have kids or senior citizens in their families did not invite us to their houses for the pooja. People are scared. We are also cautious. We only go to those houses where we know that nobody is ill or infected,” he said.
Kishor Chawla, chief executive officer of Katyayani Shaktipeeth temple in Chhatarpar, said the devotees will not be able to receive 'prasad' (offering) in the temple premises this time.
Social distancing has to be maintained in the entire temple complex, he said, adding that prasad will be given to the devotees in packets.
The temple management committee has installed two full body sanitisation tunnels at entry points of the temple. No devotee will be allowed to offer anything to the goddess like flowers or prasad, the official said.
This year, the famous Jhandewalan Devi Mandir authority has decided to send eight chariots equipped with the idols of the goddess to different localities across the city.
The chariots especially designed for the festival will be sent daily for nine days so that the devotees get an opportunity to worship the deity in their own localities and avoid crowding at the temple.
Another priest Pushpendra Mishra from Ram Temple in Vivek Vihar said they have placed sanitisers at the main gate.
“We have placed sanitisers at the gate for the devotees. We are also not allowing people without masks inside the temple,” he said.
Monu Pandit, a priest at Shani Mandir in east Delhi's Dilshad Garden, said the first and last day during Navratri are very important.
'We opened the temple early in the morning but only 30 to 40 people turned up. The first and last day of the festival (Navratri) are very important. Due to the ongoing pandemic situation, people are scared and avoid visiting crowded areas,' he said.
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