Women Face Dilemma To Visit Temples In Shrawan

By Sampada Anuranjanee Khatiwada

Kathmandu, July 15: The month of Shrawan, considered holy in the Hindu culture, will begin tomorrow. Shrawan Sakranti, the first day of the month, is marked by worshipping Lord Shiva, which continues throughout the month. Especially on Mondays, women observe fast and pray to Lord Shiva to get their wishes fulfilled.
Yearly, women in huge number visit Pashupatinath Temple to worship Lord Shiva during the month of Shrawan. But this year, they are in a dilemma – whether to visit or not to visit the shrine – as the COVID-19 scare still looms large.

“I used to visit Pashupatinath temple every Monday in Shrawan,” said Lalita KC, 39, of Dhapasi. “But this year, the situation is different. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live our life.
“As the cases of the novel coronavirus are increasing daily in the Kathmandu Valley, I have decided to not visit the temple and avoid crowding,” added KC.

“After all, we will be able to worship the god if we are alive and healthy. Health should be our first priority especially during the time of public health crisis. Thus, I have decided to worship Lord Shiva from home,” she added.

Likewise, Durga Dhakal, 56, of Kausaltar, Bhaktapur, said, “God dwells in our hearts and our home is our temple. So, I will not visit the temples during Shrawan this year. I will observe fast and worship Shiva from home.
“We are facing a difficult and unprecedented time where coming in contact with others or crowding could result in a serious health hazard,” said Dhakal. “I am sure Lord Shiva will understand this too. Therefore, we all should worship Him from our homes so that we do not get infected with the virus or be its carrier.”

Meanwhile, public health experts have said that Nepal is still at risk of COVID-19 fallout. “Although the cases of COVID-19 are declining, the risk of virus transfer at the community level cannot be ruled out yet. This is not the time to step out and form a crowd,” said Dr. Sharad Onta, a public health expert.

“Firstly, all of us should avoid going out without any urgency. If we must step out, we have to follow all the prescribed safety protocols. Whenever we step out, we must keep in mind that we may be the carrier of the virus or be infected with it in no time,” he added.

Dr. Onta said that although Nepal was moving back to normalcy, it is risky to visit public places such as temples. “It is getting difficult to manage crowds in public places like market, banks, offices and other service delivery points. Temples, too, could be the hotspot of the virus fallout,” added Dr. Onta. Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the virus could transmit not only via respiratory droplets, but also through the air. If this is the case, then temples are the high risk zone of COVID-19 transfer, said Dr. Onta.

“Therefore, visiting public places like temples could expose one to the risk of virus contamination. We must avoid crowding during this time. However, if someone has to step out, s/he must follow all the safety measures,” he added. In the Nepali culture, Shrawan is considered as the auspicious month of cleaning out dirt from our lives and our homes. ‘Luto falne’, a tradition of removing all kinds of diseases like scabies, is also practiced on the first day of this holy month.

As the novel coronavirus has rocked the world, this year it is important to ward off the virus along with scabies, on the first day of Shrawan. Whether the devotees would wipe out the virus by following the safety protocols or not is yet to be seen.

– The Rising Nepal

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