Belur Math reopens to visitors after a little over three months
Belur Math reopened to visitors on Wednesday after remaining shut for a little over three months.
At the gates of the main entrance to the Math, the global headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, all visitors were screened for their Covid vaccination certificates and identity documents.
Beginning Wednesday, Belur Math will remain open from 8am to 11am and from 4pm to 5.45pm.
Senior monks said the footfall on Day-1 was higher in the morning than in the evening. Visitors are allowed to enter the Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Brahmananda temples.
The Pally Mangal stall and the bookstore are also open.
The Math had shut its gates for visitors on April 22 following a renewed surge in Covid cases. It reopened for a day on July 24, on the occasion of Guru Purnima.
The authorities have decided that visitors turning up at the Math will have to produce a certificate showing they have received two doses of a Covid vaccine and an identity proof. Alternatively, a negative result of an RT PCR test for Covid has to be produced along with an identity proof. The test has to be conducted within 72 hours before the visit.
The proof of identity could be the Aadhaar card, PAN card or the voter card, Math officials said.
“All visitors were asked to produce their documents before they were scanned with thermal guns for their body temperature and offered hand sanitisers,” said a senior monk. “We have sought the help of the Howrah police commissionerate to ensure that social distancing is maintained. The footfall is likely to go up on Sunday on the occasion of Rakhi Purnima.”
On Wednesday, volunteers stood at the entrance to all temples. Only a small number of visitors were allowed inside at a time.
The road to the main temple has been split into two, using guardrails and nylon ropes, for entry and exit. The Math authorities have done away with the ritual of distributing prasad.
Devotees are not allowed to gather inside the Ramakrishna temple during the evening prayer. They are also barred from meeting Swami Smaranananda, the president of the order, and other senior monks.
The Math is home to nearly 300 monks and around 250 employees.