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Malls, Restaurants and places of worship open in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Malls, restaurants and places of worship opened in Kerala on Tuesday morning after over two-and half months of Coronavirus induced lockdown.

There were very few visitors in the malls and restaurants in the early hours and people preferred takeaways in eateries.

Various temples, including the famous Lord Krishna temple at Guruvayoor, a few churches and mosques opened in the state for the devotees.

The Guruvayur shrine opened at 9.30 am and around 150 people, who had booked through virtual queue system, offered prayers.

Devotees wearing masks were seen standing adhering to the social distance norm.

A faithful at the guruvayur temple said he had booked for darshan on Sunday and was happy to be offering worship after a long gap.

"This is a realisation of a dream", he said.

In the state capital while the famed Lord Padmanabha swamy, Pazhavanangadi Ganapathy and Attukal Bhagavathy temples remained shut, the SreekanteshwaraShiva shrine and Lord Hanuman temple near the state assembly were among those which opened for darshan.

The names, age and other details of the worshippers are also being collected by the temple authorities before letting people in.

Another devotee said it was very painful not to go to the temple and expressed happiness over reopening of the shrines.

The virtual queue booking for devotees to offer worship at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala would commence from Wednesday.

Devotees from other states have to produce a Covid-19 negative certificate while booking,sources in the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), administers the temple, said.

The Ayyappa shrine would open from June 14 to 28 for the five day monthly pooja and temple festival and only 10 people would be allowed inside the shrine at a time, sources said.

Most of the over 1,200 temples under the TDB, have opened while those under the Nair Service Society (NSS), an organisation of the Nair community and few other shrines were shut.

The state government, which had come under attack from the BJP and Hindu Aikya vedi for opening the temples in a "hasty manner" has maintained that the decision was taken in line with the Centre's Unlock-1 guidelines and said those opposing the move had earlier wanted devotees to be allowed into the shrines.

As per the centre's Standard Operating Procedures, social distancing should be followed in all the places of worship and devotees should wear face mask are among other precautions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those above 65 and children below 10 years would not be allowed in places of worship, distribution of food, refreshments and offertory blessings (prasadams), sandalwood paste or ashes should be avoided.

Thermal scanners to check body temperatures, sanitiisers, arrangements for washing hands, were all provided in the temples and other places of worship which opened this morning,

In churches in the state capital, Kochi and Kozhikode, allowedthe faithful inside after disinfecting the place.

The orthodox church synod is being held on Tuesday which will take a decision on whether or not to open their places of worship.

Few mosques were also open in some places.

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