Temples open in Himachal Pradesh but Covid scare keeps devotees away – chandigarh
Temples opened across Himachal Pradesh after five months on Thursday but the Covid-19 scare was evident as few devotees turned up to offer prayers.
The cabinet decided on September 4 to open all religious places in the hill state, also known as Devbhoomi, after five months with strict safety guidelines in place.
Brajeshwari Temple, one of the 52 Shakti Peethas, in Kangra town wore a deserted look even hours after the temple opened on Thursday morning. Few local devotees turned up.
The situation was similar in other temples in Una, Bilaspur and Hamirpur districts.
Raj Kumar Sharma, a priest at Chamunda temple, said: “Today is just the first day. We expect the number of devotees to increase in the coming days.”
Chamunda temple was opened at 11am after the sub divisional magistrate inspected the premises to review the safety arrangements.
According to the guidelines, a maximum of 500 pilgrims a day will be allowed at Chintpurni Temple in Una and at the shrines of Kangra and Hamirpur districts, while 1,000 devotees will be allowed to offer prayers Naina Devi Temple in Bilaspur daily.
Offerings are prohibited and devotees are not allowed to touch anything.
For devotees coming from outside the state, a Covid-19 negative report and two days of prior booking is mandatory.
The pandemic not only hit the income of local residents dependent on the temples for a livelihood but also took a toll on the income of the temples as donations dipped by more than 90% during the lockdown.