Woolf Institute Blogging Site (2020)

Piyali Mitra
University Of Calcutta
As the world has been left reeling by the large and continuous loss of human lives due to the current pandemic, Pope Francis offered "Urbi et Orbi" (To the City and the World) in his blessings. He led a recitation of the Lord's Prayer on the feast of the Annunciation which was live streamed around the world, renewing his invitation to pray incessantly for the cure of the sick as well for the medical caregivers. As places of worship across the world are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people of faith need to either offer prayers within the restricted walls of their homes or make use of the virtual platforms available. One way to sustain communal worship is to rely on technology and that is how some of the temples and Gurudwaras in India are engaging with their communities. They have resorted to audio kirtan (call and response chanting) and songs through which they are delivering sermons and messages to their devotees. Whilst many temples have remained closed, some temples and Gurudwaras are still not ready to follow the restrictions implemented against gatherings. Flouting lockdown, several devotees have assembled outside the local temples of West Bengal and Patna on the occasion of Ram Navami and to offer Pujas (prayer rituals) seeking relief from COVID19. However, the annual festivals to honour Lord Ram at Ayodhya – where thousands gather – have been called off.
Keywords COVID-19  Religion  India  Pandemic
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