A day after temples in Maharashtra threw their doors open after eight months of coronavirus-induced shutdown, devotees have started returning to Mumbai’s famous shrine to offer their prayers.
The reopening of the places of worship coincided with Diwali 'Padwa' (Marathi New Year), an important festival in the state, and 'Bhai Dooj' which were celebrated on Monday.
Siddhivinayak Temple Trust's chairman, Aadesh Bandekar, on Sunday said only 1,000 devotees will be allowed inside the temple every day in staggered time slots to be booked through a mobile phone application.
On Monday Bandekar said, "We have received good response today... we are letting in 100 people per hour (to ensure physical distancing). Body temperatures and QR codes of devotees are being checked."
"The temples access barrier is being opened only if a devotee is wearing mask. A proper system is being followed,” he said.
The temple trust will review the situation after two days and may allow more devotees to have darshan of Lord Ganesh based on the assessment, Bandekar said.
He urged senior citizens, pregnant women and children -- considered as more vulnerable to novel coronavirus infection -- to take care of themselves given the prevailing situation.
"Senior citizens can download our mobile app, they can get darshan of Bappa live 24x7... hence, they should not hurry (into visiting the temple). Bappa is there to take care of you, but take care of yourselves," he said.
Bandekar said the trust has not said "no" to senior citizens for visiting the temple. "But, it should be avoided given the pandemic situation," he added.
Religious places located out of Covid-19 containment zones have been allowed to reopen as per the timings decided by authorities, and devotees will be allowed inside in a staggered manner.
According to the SOPs laid down by the government, only asymptomatic people will be allowed inside places of worship and wearing of face mask is mandatory for devotees.
The number of people to be allowed inside such places in a particular time slot will be decided on the size of the structure and ventilation.
Devotees will have to maintain social distancing, while management of such places will have to conduct thermal scanning and make available hand wash or sanitisers, according to the SOPs.