The Karnataka government has prohibited Muharram processions this year, in view of the Coronavirus pandemic, an official said on Monday.
“Public gatherings and taking out of processions are strictly prohibited,” said Minority Welfare, Haj and Waqf Secretary A.B. Ibrahim.
However, he clarified that the prohibition is only for this year.
“This order of restricting the celebration issued only this year in view of the infectious pandemic of Covid and shall not be a precedent for future cases,” Ibrahim said.
The senior officer issued guidelines for observing Muharram with restrictions that stretch from August 21-30.
All the ashurkhanas, masjids and dargahs have to be sanitised and disinfected while no alams or panjas should be installed in public places.
“The number of participants may be reduced at fateha and for Majilis-e-Imam Hussain (religious sermon). Preferably, the general public and devotees are advised to offer fateha and majilis at their respective homes in view of Covid,” said Ibrahim.
Though the religious sermon is allowed, it is only permitted in halls, maintaining physical distancing with all preventive measures.
The management committees of the religious places should display the number of devotees who can be accommodated in asthanas or ashurkhanas for majilis and close the gates after the devotees enter.
“Carpets should be removed and sitting places should be clearly marked by maintaining physical distance after every sermon,” he said.
Entry of devotees should be monitored to avoid large gatherings and no congregation will be allowed in graveyards.
Likewise, sharbat, tabaruk and water can be distributed only in sealed packets.
People above 60, those with comorbidities and children below 10 years should not be allowed for ziyarat and have been advised to offer prayers at home.
Maintaining physical distance of 6 feet, compulsory thermal scanning and the provision of liquid soap and hand washing facility should be made available.
Likewise, unknown visitors should be monitored and no beggars are allowed outside the religious place.
The state government has issued these guidelines considering that the ashurkhanas, masjids and dargahs are practically not in a position to maintain physical distancing during Muharram rituals.
Muharram rituals are known for attracting huge crowds, including children, senior citizens and also people from other faiths.