In a significant development, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday (November 14) announced that temples and other places of religious worship across the state will reopen from Monday (November 16). It is to be noted that the religious places of worship were shut down in Maharashtra since the COVID-19 lockdown in March.
Wishing the people of Maharashtra on the occasion of Diwali, CM Thackeray said, “We can’t forget that the demon coronavirus is still amongst us. Even though this demon is slowly falling silent now, we cannot be complacent. Citizens need to follow discipline. Just like discipline and restraint were observed while celebrating Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi,Navratri and Pandharpur wari (annual pilgrimage), followers of other faiths also celebrated festivals like Eid, Mount Mary festival by keeping the COVID-19 safety protocol in mind.”
The chief minister added that although coronavirus pandemic forced the government to shut down places of religious worship, god was taking care of everyone in the form of doctors, nurses and other health staff.
CM Thackeray, however, asserted that rules and COVID-19 safety protocol have to be followed strictly. “Crowding will have to avoided. The reopening of religious places is not a government order, but the wish of the Almighty. Shoes will have to kept outside the premises and wearing masks is mandatory,” he said.
“If we follow discipline, we will get God’s blessings,” Thackeray added..
It is to be noted that CM Tahckeray was repeatedly attacked by BJP leaders for not allowing the reopening of temples in Maharashtra even as the Unlock process began in June.
The state government’s stand over this matter also led to a standoff between CM Thackeray and Governor B S Koshyari, who wrote a letter to the chief minister reminding f his is Hindutva credentials and mocked him asking if he had turned secular.