Srinagar: Unlike last year when they were confined to their homes, people in Kashmir valley marked the beginning of Ramadan on Wednesday with prayers and taraweeh at mosques, while adhering to Covid-19 SOPs.
Last year the J&K government as well as the clergy had urged people to pray at their homes and avoid visiting mosques for congregational prayers. However, this year, mosques and shrines were open and attracted a huge number of devotees for prayers and taraweeh, which hold utmost significance in this month. All devotees were asked to follow Covid-19 SOPs, especially social distancing and mask-wearing.
On Tuesday evening, as the announcement of the arrival of the holy month was made, people were seen heading towards mosques to offer the inaugural taraweeh prayers to formally begin their journey of prayers for the entire month.
People expressed happiness and satisfaction at being able to observe Ramadan in its true spirit and tradition.
“We are extremely happy and thankful to Almighty for blessing us again with the holy month with its true spirit and beauty. Last year we were all together when the mosques were shut and other associated activities were off the bounds. However, this year, though with the rider of social distancing, all the mosques and shrines stand open and are attracting devotees,” Arif Ahmad, a resident of Anantnag, told Kashmir Reader.
While offering the prayers, the devotees stood in rows separated by a safe distance. Each devotee also maintained a certain distance with others, leaving the intermediate prayer mat empty. In most of the mosques across Kashmir valley, prayer mats were marked with different signs to make it clear that no one was allowed to offer prayers at a particular space, thus ensuring strict adherence to social distancing norms.
In the historic Jamia Masjid of Srinagar, the taraweeh prayers were observed on Tuesday late evening by a huge number of devotees including women and children. The devotees offered prayers while ensuring strict compliance of social distancing norms and wearing masks.
Earlier, there was a confusion about holding taraweeh prayers at the Jamia mosque during the month of Ramadan. However, its management committee had clarified that there was no such plan of suspending prayers at the mosque.
The scenes of prayers were no different in prominent shrines of Srinagar city including Hazratbal, Dastgeer Sahib, Khankah-e- Moula and several others.
“We have been reiterating constantly to follow social distancing norms strictly and wear masks. We are not allowing devotees without masks inside the shrine. One who has to offer prayers, needs to compulsorily maintain distance with each other. No one is allowed to flout these norms,” a member of the shrine management of Dastgeer Sahib told Kashmir Reader.
At Dastgeer Sahib, devotees were being cautioned through loudspeakers to ensure social distancing norms during every prayer. “Everyone is requested to maintain distance with each other. Covid-19 is around us and killing hundreds of people every day. We shouldn’t lower our guard and ensure safety of ourselves and our family by following proper precautions. Masks are mandatory,” a cleric of the shrine was heard advising devotees.
The divisional administration Kashmir had asked the JK Waqf Board, which oversees the affairs of major shrines of Kashmir, to strictly ensure compliance of all Covid-19 SOPs during prayers inside shrines. It also ordered to impose fine on the violators of such norms.