Tirupati: Deadly coronavirus hits the temples hard
- So far, 51 employees including a few archakas tested positive for virus
- Temples are witnessing huge drop in number of pilgrims
- Srikalahasti devasthanam is performing all arjitha sevas in ‘ekantham’ except Rahu-Kehu pujas
- Kanipakam devasthanam is allowing restricted number of devotees to arjitha sevas
Tirupati: The deadly coronavirus has hit the temples hard as several employees and a few Archakas got infected already. Apart from Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala and various other temples under TTD control in Tirupati, major temples are there at Srikalahasti and Kanipakam in the district.
This has made a huge impact on the visiting pilgrims as the numbers have come down steeply. Taking note of the rampant spread of virus across the districts, the Endowments department has issued certain guidelines to be followed in the temples keeping in view the safety of devotees along with Archakas and temple employees.
In the recent days, 20 employees of Srikalahasteeswara devasthanam were tested positive including two Archakas while three of them have been infected on Wednesday. While four of them have been recovered from the infection, another 15 are undergoing treatment and one employee has died.
Temple EO D Peddiraju told The Hans India that they have been following all standard operating procedures in the temple to prevent the further spread of the virus. It was also decided to open the temple from 6 am to 6 pm only for devotees until further notice. Except Rahu-Kethu pujas all other 'Arjitha sevas' are to be held in 'Ekantham' only without allowing the devotees.
Also, 19 employees of Swayambhu Sri Varasiddi Vinayaka Swamy Devasthanam, Kanipakam have been infected by the coronavirus till now and all of them are undergoing treatment. Temple EO A Venkatesu has said that they took several steps following after the infections were found in some of the employees.
They have been allowing a restricted number of devotees to the Arjitha sevas. Also, instead of performing Abhishekams for three times now it will be held for one time only. Temple will remain open from 4 am to 7 pm for devotees. He said only around 200 devotees are visiting the temple daily. Steps were taken to vaccinate the employees and so far, 224 have taken their first dose, he added.
According to J Ekambaram, Assistant commissioner of Endowments, apart from these two temples, three employees of Ardhagiri Veeranjaneya Swamy temple, Aragonda, five of Tataiahgunta Gangamma devasthanam in Tirupati and four employees of other temples were also tested positive in this month only taking the total number of persons affected by Covid to 51.
Meanwhile, the district has reported 1,975 positive cases on Wednesday as per the revised report though the initial report claimed it as 2,104. The report clearly indicated that the virus is spreading fast to rural areas with several mandals having reported an increasing number of cases. Madanapalle recorded 251 cases while Yadamarri reported one case; all other mandals have reported more than two cases.