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City-based St. Mary’s Basilica is going the virtual way to celebrate 2020’s nine-day Novena festival amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which attracts thousands of people in normal times, a cleric said on Friday.

“This year, all the grandeur and fervour of this festival has been snatched away by the cruel intervention of dreaded coronavirus. We have made alternative arrangements to celebrate this festival spiritually and meaningfully through digital and other social media networks,” said Peter Machado, Catholic Archbishop of Bengaluru.

Centrally located in Shivajinagar, the basilica will telecast daily spiritual programmes all through the nine days in multiple languages such as English, Kannada, Konkani and Malayalam.

Archdiocese of Bangalore app, YouTube channel, website and also the church’s website will be the virtual links for the devout to stay connected with the Novena festival.

“We have decided to live stream all the spiritual programmes through various digital platforms on all nine days of the Novena, from August 29 and on feast day September 8,” said Machado.

The archbishop appealed to the devotees to confine themselves to their homes as one family to spend time in prayer and recitation of the holy rosary.

Considering the pandemic, the police and the state government have also advised a low key celebration, without crowds of devotees at the shrine and its vicinity.

Novena feast day on September 8 is known for the sea of humanity which descends on the church premises.

On August 29, the church starts its celebrations with a flag hoisting ceremony.

“People from all faiths joyfully and wholeheartedly participate with utmost devotion and piety in these religious services,” observed Machado.

He said prayers will be held for all devotees and the people in Bengaluru and Karnataka on the Novena days and the feast day as well.

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