Temples in Andhra, Telangana re-open with trial run

Leading temples in the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana re-opened for darshan on Monday, nearly 80 days after they were shut due the lockdown enforced to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Resuming darshan in a totally new environment necessitating several safety measures, the temples were initially conducting trial runs with entry restricted to their employees, family members and local devotees.

Following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the governments, the temple authorities put in place elaborate measures to ensure safety including wearing of face masks by all devotees, their thermal screening, maintaining six feet distance between two devotees and provision of sanitisers and disinfectants.

Country’s famous Sri Venkateswara temple near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh opened for darshan at 6 a.m. with the entry restricted to Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) employees and their family members.

The trial run will continue till Wednesday. The employees and their family members will be allowed for the first two days while on the third day local devotees in Tirumala will be permitted to have darshan.

About 500 TTD employees wearing PPE kits were deployed in the temple premises to regulate the queues.

The temple will be thrown open for common devotees on June 11 with the number of devotees per day restricted to 6,000.

Srikalahasti temple, another key pilgrim site in Chittoor district, remained closed as it is still located in a containment zone.

Srisailam temple in Kurnool district resumed darshan on trial run. Executive Officer K.S. Rama Rao said on the first day only temple employees were being allowed to do puja. Common devotees will be allowed to have darshan from Tuesday.

“We are ensuring compliance to all safety measures laid down by the government. Every devotee must wear face mask and undergo thermal screening. Six feet distance between two devotees is mandatory,” he said.

The temple will allow only 3,000 devotees per day. The authorities asked the people to make online booking of darshan tickets. They will also be provided accommodation. The temple will also arrange ‘anna prasadam’ with safety guidelines.

Simhachalam temple in Visakhapatnam district also re-opened with darshan on a trial basis. Common devotees will be allowed to visit the temple from June 10. The temple officials asked the devotees to book their slots online and report at the temple according to their slots with identity proof.

Vijayawada’s Kanaka Durga temple opened its door for temple staff and locals on Monday. The trial run will continue for two days. The temple officials said from June 10, only those who booked tickets online will be allowed for darshan.

Temples across Telangana also re-opened with the temple authorities implementing a ‘no mask no entry’ policy on the direction of the Endowments Department.

The Endowments Department made it clear that Theertha and prasadam will not be distributed. It issued detailed guidelines to the temples on the precautionary measures to be taken.

Devotees would be asked to wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before entering the temples. Common practices such as touching statues, idols and holy books, and taking a holy dip at the water bodies near the temples would be prohibited.

According to the guidelines, if a person showing symptoms of Covid-19 or has tested positive for the disease is spotted on the temple premises, he/she should be immediately isolated in a room and medical officials alerted.

The famous Sri Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple at Yadadri re-opened at 8.30 a.m. following the SOP prescribed by the state government. The temple authorities were allowing only the temple employees and local devotees to have free laghu darshan.

The temple officials were ensuring that only those wearing face masks enter the temple after being subjected to thermal screening. In the queues for ‘darshan’ six feet distance was being maintained between two devotees. The temple employees provided clear markings on the ground to ensure physical distancing.

Temples at Basara, Bhadrachalam, Vemulawada and other places in Telangana also re-opened on Monday.