According to a temple priest in Tambaram, while public worship is not being held, smaller, private darshans have been followed over the last few months, with crowds of less than five people. “We hold smaller, private events in our temple, which is very small. There is no prasaadam given, nor do we allow anyone without a mask. Until further instructions, this is how we will continue,” said the priest.
Temple associations share that classes and cultural events are shared via video chat to members to follow along at home. Similarly, locals from the Christian community have turned to televised screenings of sermons and mass, while the Islamic community have been utilising online prayers streamed daily or weekly.
However, the changes that will take place should the same restrictions be imposed in the city are causing worry for many. “While our church is large enough to impose social distancing and mask-wearing, the main issue will be with receiving communion and the Eucharist. Thus far, we have been receiving online communion and while it is safer, I doubt that we will be allowed to go back as things were,” said Cymren, a local.
Additionally, many senior citizens rue that even with the restriction for safety, visiting even small places of worship will not remain the same. “My family has told me to remain at home and follow my prayers. Even though the temple near my house is very close, they tell me that going there will be dangerous for my health. So even if these rules will be in effect in Chennai after August, I will not go,” said an 83-year-old resident of Mylapore.