Religious institutions live stream prayer services amid Coronavirus shut down

Bellevue Hindu Temple
Photo credit: Bellevue Hindu Temple

Hindu, Muslim, Christian worshippers welcome move as temples, mosques, churches close across US.

The Khan family in Illinois went to a suburban mosque to offer their Friday prayers only to find the mosque closed in view of spreading coronavirus across the US.

A note at the door said the mosque would remain closed for the five daily prayers as well as Friday community prayers until further notice.

While the Khans had taken care to leave the kids and elderly back at home, they were satisfied to see that the authorities are taking full precaution to ensure that large gatherings and social contacts remain minimum.

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Speaking to the American Bazaar Khan said, “This is totally understandable and we all are with the authorities as they tackle these extraordinary times. Even our religion advises us to first safeguard the well-being of the community.”

Religious institutions across the country are following guidelines and many have either issued advisories or closed down for the time being. Not just in the midwest but both on East coast and Bay area, religious institutions are following suit.

At the St Andrews Episcopal Church in Saratoga, Sunday services will be live streamed instead of worshippers coming and attending the church.

The San Jose Buddhist church has also decided to live stream and conduct virtual prayer services for next three Sundays.

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A few churches in San Jose area are offering online only services for the next few weeks. The Mendez family in San Jose says that this is nothing like that they have ever seen before.

Alfred Mendoza says, “With parades and prayers getting cancelled we know that we are averting something big from happening. It’s unusual but we aren’t panicking but supporting everything that can contain the spread.

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America Flushing, New York there is a COVID-19 advisory in place for all visitors.

The website has put up an entry restriction notice saying: “If you are sick with flu like symptoms (such as fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, shortness of breath, muscle aches) or recently traveled to an affected area, please do not enter Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam premises and if necessary seek medical advice.”

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It also advises devotees “not to hand touch the prasadam. Use the spoon and wear a poly gloves (powder free approved for food handling). Not to hand touch theertham/sacred water, vibhooti, kumkum, chandan. Use ONLY spoon.”

“Home-made or outside purchased naivedyam / sweet offerings brought by devotees shall not be distributed in the temple premises,” it says asking them to “Maintain appropriate distance between devotees while participation in poojas.”

The Bellevue Hindu Temple and Cultural Center in Seattle has for now cancelled its Holi event and has put up a notice that it will rescheduled later.

(Disclaimer: This is a fast changing situation and many religious institutions may follow new procedures even as we publish)

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