Coronavirus: Hindu community urged to take precaution during Navratri
President of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, Dr Vindhya Persaud is encouraging Hindus observing Chaitra Navratri, a sacred Hindu festival, to be practical and take precautions following confirmed cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Guyana.
During an interview with the News Room, Dr Persaud said the Dharmic Sabha issued guidelines to over 300 Mandirs across the country to limit social and large gathering.
Navratri occurs twice per year and dedicates nine nights of praying, fasting and worship.
“Navratri is very sacred and auspicious on the Hindu calendar which occurs twice, it’s powerful for prayer and I know many Hindus look forward to when this commences tomorrow 24 March and concludes on April 02,” Dr Persaud said.
Traditionally during this time persons are encouraged to come out to the Mandirs, however due to the new coronavirus this is being limited.
“The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha in light of the coronavirus we would have encouraged certain guidelines, we are very conscious that it is necessary to limit social engagement and also to impose on yourself if necessary self-isolation,” Dr Persaud said.
Dr Persaud also noted that the Mandirs will be open all day so persons can visit at various times and if necessary, services, messages, chants and Bajans can be streamed live on social media; elderly and persons who are ill are asked to stay at home while the Mandirs are also being urged to have sanitary items available.
“What we are saying to you, if your Mandir is not too big then you should not be having services with large numbers of people, if you have a Mandir that can accommodate persons and they can actually be six feet away from each other then you can, but even so limit the number of people.”
If there will be persons entering Mandirs, then there must be precautionary measures available such as sanitizers and soap and water.
Additionally, all objects in the Mandir along with all surfaces must be cleaned and sanitized at all times.
“If you go to a temple, many things can be touched and one of the ways COVID-19 can be spread is touching contaminated surfaces along with close contact,” Dr Persaud said.
The virus which originated in Wuhan China in December 2019 has caused an escalation of infections and fatalities in a number of countries around the world. Guyana has so far recorded five confirmed cases with one death.
Meanwhile, Mandirs on the East Coast of Demerara are being urged to exercise extreme precaution.
“….most of the people who have been identified so far are from the East Coast of Demerara and really in the country we do not know the extent of the exposure, we do not know who is and isn’t because the information is not readily available,” Dr Persaud said.
Dr Persaud noted that the meaning of the festival should not be diminished because of the limitations with the coronavirus and again urged that everyone adhere to the guidelines.
“We are calling on Hindus to recognise that this is a time for prayer, it is a powerful time of prayer and prayer can move mountains.”