Temples reopen in Kerala after two-and-a-half months, but receive lukewarm response

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KOCHI: Expectations were high as temples opened the doors for devotees after a gap of two-and-a-half months. But much to the disappointment of the Devaswom Boards, only a few devotees visited temples on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Hindu organisations and the BJP upped the ante against the government for opening temples at a time when COVID-19 cases are rising and the threat of community spread looms large.

At the famous Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, only 88 devotees offered prayers till afternoon. As many as 232 devotees visited Chottanikkara Bhagavathy temple while less than 100 people offered prayers at Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple. At Ettumannur Siva Temple, 236 devotees offered prayers till noon while 300 devotees visited Vaikom Mahadeva temple. The Thiruvananthapuram Sree Padmanabha Temple had on Monday decided not to allow entry for devotees till June 30.

“We had made elaborate arrangements expecting a steady flow of devotees. Barricades were raised at the western gate to restrict entry and markings were made on the floor to ensure a distance of 1.8 m between devotees. Only 10 people were allowed to enter the temple at a time. But the response was poor. From 4 am to noon, only 232 devotees visited the temple,” said Chottanikkara temple administrative officer Biju R Pillai.

Guruvayur Devaswom was also expecting steady flow of devotees but the response was not encouraging. Though the temple had announced that 600 people will be given entry per day, only 288 people applied online for darshan. “The devotees were allowed inside the temple from 9.30 am to 12 noon. But only 88 devotees turned up to offer prayers. We are not allowing devotees to enter the inner temple
(Chuttambalam). This may be the reason for the lukewarm response,” said Guruvayur Administrative Officer S V Sisir.

At Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Temple, one of the prominent Sree Krishna temples in Kerala, where thousands used to offer prayers daily, less than 100 devotees turned up on Tuesday. “Devotees were allowed darshan from 4 am to 10.15 am today. But less than 100 devotees arrived today. We have erected barricades and made a queue system to control the devotees. Hope more devotees will turn up in the
coming days,” said administrative officer G Gopakumar.

At Ettumannur Siva Temple, 236 devotees offered prayers till 12 noon. “The temple was opened at 4 am and we had made arrangements to control the crowd. However, only 236 people offered prayers till 12 noon. We have made markings to ensure 1.8 m distance between devotees,” said administrative officer Murari.

Less than 300 devotees visited Vaikom Mahadeva temple, which usually witnesses a steady flow of devotees. “The temple was open from 4 am to 11 am. But there were not many devotees. The devotees are not allowed to receive prasad from the priests. Devaswom staff have been deployed to ensure social distancing,” said administrative officer K R Biju.

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