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Amid shutdown, devout go digital to keep in touch with religion

With religious places in the city closed due to fear of COVID outbreak, the devout have turned to the Internet to remain faithful to their prayers and to stay in touch with their spirituality. Through live-streaming and video-calling applications, religious services and the devout are remaining safe while praying through several religious holidays.

Amid shutdown, devout go digital to keep in touch with religion
A sermon aired on a TV channel at a house in the city


Being the holy month of Ramzan, many practitioners of the Muslim faith say that their daily schedule has not been interrupted much and that they are able to continue their daily prayers. However, during this month, a special prayer called the Tarawih Namaz is also held, which causes a few issues.

“These prayers can only be carried out by an Imam. There are many imams online who conduct the prayers and those who wish to follow the prayers play the video and pray along. Many in the city are opting for this as they cannot physically go to the mosque,” said Farhana.

Those of the Christian faith rue their inability to celebrate Easter, which fell on April 12, in a typical way. However, daily and weekly sermons and communion – a ceremony where bread and wine are distributed – have continued, with some changes.

“We stream a video of an Australian priest on YouTube. Due to time differences, his streams happen at 5.30 am for us and we can finish up our prayers in the morning. If we want to sleep in, we can always watch it later, once he uploads it. I really miss being able to take part in communion, as we can only accept communion from our priest. Due to this, there is a communion prayer that we can recite or that the priest can recite on our behalf,” said Cymren Maria. Television channels dedicated to the Christian faith are also broadcasting daily sermons.

The Kapaleeshwar Temple in Mylapore recently announced that they will be live-streaming dharshan and pujas for devotees on YouTube. Several smaller temples in the city are also preparing to accept e-dharshan requests, and sending the videos to the concerned party shortly thereafter.

“I miss the social aspect of going to the temple. I would get ready and meet my friends in the area. We would take part in temple activities and preparations or just sit in the temple and pray. Although I can pray from home and am praying daily, I also wish to return to the temple soon,” said a senior citizen and practitioner of the Hindu faith.

Are these online prayers effective, is the question and while some are happy, most wish to return to their place of worship soon. “It’s not the same, praying at home versus online. When I pray, I like quiet and I like to be alone in my thoughts. It’s not possible at home, with all the noises around us. The aspect of being in a holy place is also something I miss very much,” said Maria.

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