The coronavirus pandemic has brought about significant changes to our lifestyles, including the manner in which we pray. With many places of worship shut, spiritual leaders of several faiths have been taking the online route for celebrating major festivals and conducting regular prayer sessions. Closer home, the annual rath yatra organised by ISKCON Vizag will now be held online, where devotees can view the proceedings live on 23 June via the ISKON Facebook Page or Zoom.
Speaking about the digital ratha yatra, Ms Nitaisevini Mataji, Cultural Coordinator at ISKCON Vizag said, “As per our ancient texts, if a rath yatra isn’t conducted for one year, it must be stalled for the next twelve years too. Considering the public cannot be allowed in, and the yatra must continue, we decided to take the digital route where only inmates of the temple will participate in the yatra.” The temple authorities made appeals to the public to watch the proceedings online from the safety of their homes.
Other changes devotees can expect:
The ISKCON temple in Vizag will be reopened to the public from 1 July, with protective equipment like hand sanitizers and sanitisation tunnels in place. Face masks will be a prerequisite for all worshippers wishing to pray at the temple. Further, prasadam will be pre-packaged for devotees to take home with them, and no one will be allowed to consume prasadam on the premises.
The Cultural Coordinator also threw light on some of the monthly programmes by ISKCON, and how they will be conducted in the future. “The Sunday evening gathering will now be restricted to only a few devotees. Previously, at least two hundred devotees would gather every Sunday to offer prayers. Some would even stay back at the premises longer to practise their meditation or say prayers by themselves. Going forward, this will be restricted. Those wishing to attend the Sunday evening prayers must register in prior,” said Nitaisevini Mataji.