Prayers allowed at temples


Signs urging devotees to observe safety rules are put up at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Queen Street, Penang. — Photos: CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

HINDUS celebrating Deepavali can perform prayers during the conditional movement control order (MCO) period at temples from 5am to 10pm on the first day of the celebration on Saturday.

Penang social development and non-Islamic religious affairs committee chairman Chong Eng said in a statement that for the prayer ceremonies on the second and third days of the celebration, the temples would be open as usual from 7am to 10pm.

Chong Eng said that temple management must make sure that only a maximum of 30 people are allowed to enter at any one time depending on the size of the temple.

“The management should also ensure that devotees observe one-metre physical distancing.”

She said the prayer ceremonies at temples must follow the standard operating procedure that had been fixed for Penang’s non-Islamic houses of worship.

“The state government has set additional guidelines in line with the conditional movement control order.

Physical distancing markers placed at the Kuan Yin Temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town.Physical distancing markers placed at the Kuan Yin Temple in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town.

“Apart from limiting the number of devotees and ensuring physical distancing, we allow only prayers at the houses of worship during the conditional MCO period.

“Other activities like religious or cultural classes will not be allowed at this time.

“Dine-in events and mass gatherings that are difficult to control are also not allowed, ” she said.

She added that all non-Islamic houses of worship in the state could operate only from 7am to 10pm.

Chong Eng, who is also Padang Lalang assemblyman, said that all devotees must disperse immediately after the prayer ceremonies end, adding that they are prohibited from gathering in the areas at the houses of worship.

“The houses of worship must observe other rules.

Only a maximum of 30 visitors are allowed to enter a temple at any one time for Deepavali prayers depending on the size of the place. Seen here is Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Penang.Only a maximum of 30 visitors are allowed to enter a temple at any one time for Deepavali prayers depending on the size of the place. Seen here is Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Penang.

“These rules include providing registration counters for devotees, temperature screening and dispensing of hand sanitiser or soap. Face masks must be worn.

“The houses of worship must also conduct regular cleaning and disinfection of the premises.

“I hope committee members, religious leaders and devotees will have the self-discipline to observe strictly all the safety measures.

“Every house of worship is responsible for evaluating and minimising the risk of infection so that devotees can pray in a safer environment, ” she added.

Meanwhile, Penang Water Supply Corporation has announced that Bukit Dumbar Recreational Park, Ayer Itam Dam and Teluk Bahang Dam are closed to the public temporarily until Dec 6.

PBAPP also announced that the opening of the expanded Mengkuang Dam would be postponed until further notice.

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