India is a land of mixed cultures where people from diverse groups coexist. India has given refuge to foreign invaders, with many people adopting new cultures and has a long lineage of traditions. India is home to large community based institutions which are involved in charity and social work. Temples, Gurudwaras, Church, Mosque adorn every nook and corner of cities and villages in India. They also command participation of large strata of affluent people who contribute to keep them running. In these times of crisis created by Coronavirus, many of the religious institutions have come forward to assist in cash and kind to prevent spreading of the virus. A 15 year old student Abhinav wrote a letter to PM asking him to mandate all religious trusts, irrespective of religion, to donate 80 per cent of ‘God’s wealth’ to PM Cares fund, so that it can be used to help people who are affected most due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Sri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust donated 11 lakh Rupees to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, setup to fight coronavirus outbreak in the country. Golden Temple in Amritsar has decided to bear cost of all PPE kits and ventilators required in Punjab during Coronavirus pandemic. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is serving food to approximately 40,000 needy people in Delhi and has offered for its rooms to be used as quarantine centres in these times.
Such initiatives by religious institutions can play a key role in mitigating the spread of virus. Some suggestions for all religious institutions to play an effective role during pandemic are given below :-
- Avoid overcrowding:- Religious institutions can help in preventing spreading of the virus by restricting people from gathering in their premises during festivals and religious occasions.
- Distribution of masks:- Many religious places in India require people to enter after covering their head by wearing scarf that they provide. Also, now they can keep masks and gloves so that people don’t touch each other or come in contact.
- Temperature testing:- For all employees of religious institutions, temperature testing at entry should be made mandatory.
- Pooling financial resources:- Religious organisations should pool their financial resources and donations and assist the Government and law enforcement agencies financially.
- Ensure hygiene and cleanliness:- Management of religious institutions should ensure that there is proper cleaning and sanitisation of the premises of religious institutions.
- Dialogue and discussion:- Religious leaders of all sects should engage in dialogues and discussions which encourage people to cooperate and supplement the government efforts in combating the Coronavirus.
- Encourage study of science and medicine:- Many religious people in India also discourage use of scientific methods and techniques while affirming faith on God. This pandemic has proved that development of scientific temper is essential to save humanity from any calamity and its use should be encouraged by religious leaders.