Karnataka government has decided to re-open temples, mosques and churches for the public from June 1. With this, Karnataka has become the first state in India to open religious shrines for common people.
All religious shrines have been closed in India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown in March.
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said, "We are going to open temples, mosques and churches in the state after May 31". Yediyurappa added that the "guidelines will be followed" as suggested by experts.
"The temples will be opened to offer pooja and daily rituals, we are not permitting temple fairs and events," Yediyurappa said.
Kota Srinivas Poojary, the minister for Hindu religious institutions and charitable endowments (Muzrai) said that "We have had discussions with the Chief Minister (B S Yeddiyurappa) regarding Muzrai department, during which it was decided to open the temples from June 1".
Karnataka has over 34,000 temples that come under the Muzrai department.
However, the final decision will be subject to the Centre's guidelines on the next course of lockdown.
Poojary said instructions have been given to all temples to take preventive measures and make necessary preparations to ensure social distancing. Poojary added that online sevas will start from Wednesday in select 52 temples.
Poojary on May 23 had said that prayers conducted at temples across the state would go online for devotees as temples will remain shut until the lockdown ends.
Recently, the Commissioner of Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments had written to deputy commissioners of 15 districts seeking information on sevas offered at temples under their jurisdiction.
The Sri Mookambika Temple in Kollur, Kukke Sri Subramanya Temple, Renuka Yellamma Temple, Banashankari Temple and Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple in Bengaluru and few other prominent temples will provide the online booking option.
"I will discuss with officials and decide on what other measures should be taken so that things go on smoothly, ensuring safety of devotees," Poojary said.