Bhopal priest against use of sanitisers in temples, says can't allow because it has alcohol

ST Staff
Saturday, 6 June 2020

The devotees will be allowed to enter the premises of the temple which will open on Monday, June 8, after the beginning of the first phase of Unlock 1.0

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday published a long list with different guidelines of prevention which were to be strictly followed while entering temples and places of worship as the country prepares for its first step towards Unlock 1.0. 

Like anywhere else, at the entrance of the temples, a hand sanitising dispenser along with a provision for thermal screening has to be present, stated the guidelines from the Ministry. 

The devotees will be allowed to enter the premises of the temple which will open on Monday, June 8, after the beginning of the first phase of Unlock 1.0 only if they have a protective mask to cover their faces, the guidelines added.

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) on Unlock 1.0 issued by the government has multiple other guidelines including maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet, frequent handwashing with soap for a minimum of 60 seconds, covering mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing, etc. The Centre has also mentioned that touching idols and holy books aren't allowed and that shoes and footwear should be taken off inside one's personal vehicle, preferably. Distribution of Prasad and holy water along with personal offerings, are also not allowed. It further said that inviting choirs or singing groups is not yet advisable. However, recording devotional music and songs are allowed.

"Avoid physical contact while greeting each other. Common prayer mats should be avoided, and devotees should bring their own prayer mat or piece of cloth which they may take back with them," said the guidelines.

After these guidelines were made available to the public domain, a priest named Chandrashekhar Tiwari from a temple in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal disagreed with one of its terms where the use of hand sanitisers were said to be compulsory. He has said he is against the use of sanitisers at a place of worship because it contains alcohol. 

According to news agency ANI, the priest of Bhopal Maa Vaishnavi Dham Nav Durga Temple said, "The task of the government is to issue the guidelines, but I am against the sanitiser machine in the temples because it contains alcohol."

"When we cannot enter a temple after drinking alcohol, then how can we sanitise our hand with alcohol and go inside," the priest added.

He also gave a secondary option in place of alcohol-based sanitisers usage. "The machines for washing hands can be installed outside all the temples and soaps can be kept. We will accept that," the priest said. 

Adding further, he also mentioned how a person enters the temple only after taking a bath at home.

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