Now Safe to Visit: Covid19 preventive measures at various temples of Udupi - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Now Safe to Visit: Covid19 preventive measures at various temples of Udupi

Past 15 days I have paid short visit to multiple temples near my home town in Udupi. Over past 1 month I visited Mandarthi, Kota, Saligrama, Kundapura, Kumbhasi/Anegudde and Mekkekattu Nandikeshwara temples, to get a feel of how temple visit experience is post lockdown. Almost all temples have adapted to the new norm of social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks. This post gives you some illustrations of the precautionary measures taken at various temples in Udupi district.

1. Awareness
This Yakshagana character (called as Tattiraya) parked at Mandarti Durgaparameshwari temple is seen wearing masks to create awareness. Displays educating corona awareness and preventive measures are displayed in every temple complex. Guard/staff on duty will reprimand anyone not following the guidelines.
Yakshagana Tattiraya
2. Hand Sanitizers
Sanitizers are provided for all devotees at the entrance. Most popular temples have deployed a dedicated person to ensure everyone sanitizes their hands while less popular temples have kept a bottle outside, visitors have to self sanitize.

3. Thermal screening
Most temples have provided handheld contact-less thermal screening gun to security. Only those who don't have high temperature are allowed inside.

4. Markings on the ground
Almost all temples have drawn squares on the ground to ensure devotees do not go too close to each other. As such crowds are very low now so maintaining social distancing is not a problem. We need to see how things are managed on special occasions like festivals or poojas that draw lots of crowd.

5. No touching temple objects and surfaces
Visitors are warned not to touch pillars, walls and other objects in temple premises. This avoids visitors contacting temple properties/structures through which corona may transmit to others.
6. Name and Contact Number collection
Most temple are maintaining a register to capture name, number and village of devotees. This helps in contact tracing in case someone else is tested positive later or a positive person is found to have visited the temple that day. One drawback of this measure is now shops, temples are building huge database of visitors at at some point of time this will go to hands of telemarketers who will make unsolicited calls trying to sell one stuff or another.

7. Several community programs cancelled
Temples have cancelled several programs such as Bhajane and other community events that draw large number of people. Even afternoon meals are suspended. Only basic pooja services are operated. 

8. Not sure about temple elephants. Temples around my home do not have any elephant. But some temples do have- not sure if elephants are kept outside to bless tourists. I think it must be resting in its shed.

9. Large festivals to be celebrated symbolically without public participation
Karnataka state government has banned most festival celebrations this year. Temple authorities are allowed to perform symbolic rituals but public participation is prohibited. People are advised to pray/celebrate at home and community events are banned. Vinayaka Chaturthi, Varamahamalakshmi, Nagapanchami and several other festivals this year will see similar fate. We need to see what happens for Dasara/Deepavali that falls in October. Hopefully pandemic will be under control by them.

Why visit temples? Is it not safe to pray from home?
Everyone have their personal beliefs. Still huge majority of Indians believe in god and seek divine blessings at regular intervals. Visiting temples is not forced upon anyone- those willing can make a safe visit and pray. Temples are also sort of economic centres- transport people, shops around temple and several others get their livelihood from temples. At present most temples are deserted. Only very small number of devotees are visiting temples. State government has also banned public participation in all major festivals- so devotees don't have reason to visit temples in large numbers. Let us collectively pray for quick elimination of the corona pandemic.

It is safe to visit temples in Udupi as lots of precautionary measures have been put in place in all temples. Crowds are near zero so maintaining social distancing is easy. If you are keen to visit a temple, you can plan your visit. But use caution and discretion. Use caution, travel safe.

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