Religious communities across the world are keen on curtailing the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The Coronavirus is sweeping across the world and affecting people regardless of faith. Religious leaders and their followers have an obligation to take measures of mitigating the inherent dangers that huge gatherings could pose in aiding the further spread of the virus.
One of the precautions that religious leaders are taking is asking followers to refrain from the traditional handshakes and to wash hands, using soap and water, as regularly as they can. The Catholics, for example, are opting to bow to those in neighboring pews as opposed to shaking their hands. Here are 6 more ways through which religious communities are adapting to the threat of coronavirus.
1. Baptism routine has changed
Baptism is a vital Catholic religious practice. Traditionally, priests wade into the baptismal font, receive babies from their parents, and then immerse the baby in holy water. But now with the corona threat, priests are advised not to touch babies’ foreheads in order to minimize physical contact as much as possible.
2. Ban on Hajj pilgrimage
The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted Islamic traditions all over the world. In the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Muslim faithful have been advised against performing religious functions that necessitate huge gatherings. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also banned international visitors from attending the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca. Iran, on the other hand, has canceled Friday prayers in all its mosques in major cities.
The Saudi move to ban foreigners from visiting Mecca and Medina is likely to halt plans for millions of pilgrims who probably hoped to travel to the kingdom ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan later this year. However, foreigners who had booked their Saudi Arabia eVisa before the Feb. 27 announcement could still have a faint chance of visiting the kingdom. The Saudi authorities have announced that people already in Saudi Arabia are free to visit Mecca’s Grand Mosque.
Unsurprisingly, very small crowds have been witnessed in recent times around the black, cube-shaped Kaaba at Mecca's Grand Mosque. The faithful appear to be wary of the increased risk of coronavirus spread in such highly crowded places.
3. Catholic mass
Catholic churches across the world are reviewing how they carry out Mass in the wake of the increased coronavirus risk. Priests are accustomed to placing the communion wafer in their congregants’ tongues. As a precaution, they are now being advised to place the communion wafer on believers’ hands. However, in some parts of the world, the churches have been advised to temporarily close until the situation is alleviated. Also, the tradition of priests asking parishioners to shake hands and mingle with people within their neighbourhood at the end of a Mass has been stopped given the circumstances.
Authorities in Hong Kong recently suspended the Fook Wai Ching and closed the She Buddhist temple. This came after a string of coronavirus cases being linked to the temple. Away from that, the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism has suspended its Templestay program, announcing that it will resume on April 5. That means that about 137 South Korean temples where people go to experience the monastic Buddhist life will remain closed.
5. Jewish festivals
Rabbis are advising the Jewish community to take caution during the upcoming Jewish festivals. Everyone was very cautious during the festival of Purim that went down a few weeks ago. Traditionally, Jews exchange gifts of food and drinks, they wear masks and other costumes, and feast during festivals. These traditions are likely to be threatened by the spread of Corona going forward.
6. The Hindus
Holi and other celebrations this year were either cancelled or observed in a low key manner in the initial days of COVID 19 in India. This came as a preventive measure given the large number of people that attend these celebrations. Normally, these festivals bring together large gatherings, which is against the guidelines given by health experts. Authorities in India are very vigilant against mass gatherings, especially in the heavily-crowded urban centers.
If Covid-19 continues spreading at this high rate, most houses of worship will soon be closed down (as they already have in many countries) or at least modify their traditions. It is naïve for any faithful to wait upon God to protect them against this pandemic without taking the recommended safety precautions. It remains to be seen how different religions will react in case the virus isn’t contained soon. They may have to keep making adjustments as the virus mutates.
|About the Author:
Anna Boquen is a preschool teacher with 8 years of experience teaching 3-5-year-olds. She is also a very religious person and she is close to God. In her experience, she has devoted her professional life to give her pupils the best she can, teaching them how to love themselves first, and improve student’s learning and behavioral skills. She loves to be around kids because as she says “They have improved her in ways nobody would”..