A majority of temples and gurudwaras in New Zealand are going digital to serve its worshippers during the four-week lockdown that is due to start Thursday, March 26, 12 a.m.
The temples have shut their doors completely during the lockdown period, and some of the prayers conducted at the temple will be streamed on its digital and social media platforms going forward.
The Hindu community has two big festivals starting this week, Chaitra Navratri and Ram Navami, for which the temples are usually flocked with devotees to almost 16 hours a day over eight days of the festival for special puja and celebrations.
This year, Navaratri starts from Wednesday, March 25 until Thursday, April 2, and the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Ram also falls on April 2.
Balmoral Temple in Sandringham has suspended all its activities and closed its door starting Wednesday night, for the next four weeks. A small Navratri puja will be conducted on Wednesday evening, the first day of Navarati, which will be live-streamed on its Facebook page.
“Balmoral Temple will be closed from Wednesday, March 25, 8 p.m. for the next four weeks, at least, and will open as per directions by the government,” Hemant Parashar, president of Balmoral Temple told The Indian Weekender.
Shri Ram Temple in Henderson has closed its doors too for devotees but will proceed with the Navratri puja that will be conducted by the priest and live-streamed on its Facebook page.
“By using our very common and popular live-streaming facilities, our devotees will not miss the special puja and can make their prayers from the comfort of their home, Pravin Kumar, president of Shri Ram Mandir Trust in Henderson said.
The Takanini Gurudwara has closed its doors for the next four weeks but will have its prayers sessions inside the Gurudwara regular. The gurudwara’s prayers are conducted by six priests who stay in the gurudwara and will conduct the prayers in two sessions, three priests each in the morning and evening.
The prayers will be live-streamed on its Facebook page, Akhila TV channel and also on NZ Punjabi News Facebook page.
“We had put restrictions on the temple earlier last week barring age 60+ seniors from coming to the gurudwara, asking other visitors to maintain hygiene by washing hands and feet before and after visiting the gurudwara. The langar service was also limited during this period,” Daljit Singh from Supreme Sikh Society New Zealand (SSSNZ) told Indian Weekender.
SSSNZ’s Otahuhu gurudwara will be closed for four weeks with no prayers.
SSSNZ has approached the government and ask offered its newly built ground and turf if there comes a need for a camp for the affected. The gurudwara has also offered 100 volunteers if needed by the government, food services for up to 5000 people per day, that can be delivered to people’s houses if required.
“We can house 5000 people at our premises if there is need for a clean base for medical camp etc. and also provide food services as all 21 gurudwaras in New Zealand has collaborated and promised to assist with all amenities required in case of an emergency,” Daljit Singh added.
The mosques and Islamic centres across New Zealand have suspended its daily five-time prayer services and Friday congregational prayers since last week. This was first announced by Otago Islamic community who cancelled its Friday prayers while most of the mosques around the country conducted prayers in two to three sessions.
“The mosque is closed for the next four weeks; we encourage our community members to maintain hygiene, look after their neighbours, friends and community members and spend quality time with their families, and pray with them,” Dr Anwar Ghani, a spokesperson from FIANZ said.