Everything is prohibited or curtailed during the ongoing corona pandemic as are congregations at religious places. However, masks as an offering to God at temples in the holy city of Kashi is the new normal.
It is believed that the way dupattas, clothes, etc are offered at the Devasthans with a pure mind, similarly the masks given as holy offerings at temples will protect the devotees against coronavirus.
In Varanasi's Laksa Mangaleshwar Mahadev Missir Pokhara temple, social worker Chandresh Narayan Pandey offers masks as obeisance to God and distributes 100 masks to visitors every day.
Pandey told IANS, "At present, the country is reeling under a pandemic. It is up to us to make people aware of the scourge until a cure is found. People revere the offerings to God based on mythological beliefs. The more you offer the more you are rewarded. We have, therefore, started the auspicious work of distributing 100 masks every day at the temple in the holy month of Shravan."
Till the pandemic is over, he added, masks would be distributed to the needy every day after offering them to the temple.
Those who pay obeisance to Lord Shiva in the temple are exhorted to wear masks. However, those who are not wearing a mask are provided one in the form of a holy offering.
Pandey said the distribution of masks as an offering to God is a good deed and gives one satisfaction. The mask is useful for breaking the coronavirus chain, but people are still negligent. The masks in the temple have now been linked to faith so that people take it seriously to overcome the coronavirus menace.
Shivam, a visitor to the temple, said he comes to offer prayers every day and gets the mask as ‘prasad' (holy offering). Ashish Mishra on arrival at the temple said that after praying to God he, too, got a mask as ‘prasad'.