Since the e-mail I sent to you yesterday, the situation relating to coronavirus has escalated. I have once again been carefully following all of the developments in this regard and the best preventive measures at other religious institutions including temples. I was very delighted to hear President Donald Trump at a press conference this morning paying tribute to the common practice among Hindus of greeting each other with folded hands, popularly referred to as “namaskaram”. In fact, the President said that India is ahead of the curve in terms of maintaining distance between people even on a regular basis. The Malibu Hindu Temple has already been ahead of the curve in changing some of the religious practices at the Temple on a temporary basis as of last Saturday, March 7, 2020. We will continue to follow all of those steps until further notice. In addition to these practices, we have also made the decision to temporarily suspend programs at the Temple that inherently bring people in physical contact with each other in a confined space for some length of time. We believe that this will help us protect all of the devotees, the employees of the Temple, and the community.
In view of this, the three events that are a regular part of our Temple’s schedule on Saturdays are suspended with immediate effect. The three programs are:
- Abhishekam for Lord Shiva at 9:20 AM at the Shiva complex;
- Abhishekam for Lord Balaji at 10:00 AM at the Balaji temple (main temple); and
- Maha aarti at 12:00 PM noon at the Balaji temple (main temple).
This suspension will also apply to any other programs at the Temple that involve a group setting. However, the Temple itself will be open for regular services.
We wish to reiterate the procedures that were articulated in our previous e-mail as well as some additional measures that have been added since then. Here is a comprehensive summary of the procedures which the Malibu Hindu Temple will be implementing until further notice:
- We have made plenty of soaps available both at the entrance to the Balaji temple as well as the Shiva complex. These have been located very close to faucets. We are requesting all the devotees to wash their hands prior to entering the sanctum sanctorum. In fact, all the entrances to the Balaji temple have been locked and visitors can enter the Temple only through the main gate. In the Shiva complex, the main entrance itself has been closed and visitors may enter only through the side entrance located next to the faucet.
- We are not offering the theertam and shatari. All of the archanas will be performed in the name of the god and the priests will be the only ones who will be allowed to enter the inner sanctum sanctorum.
- All the carpets have been removed and all the surfaces including doorknobs, handles, dining room areas, and floors throughout the Temple are being cleaned with a disinfectant on a regular basis.
- We encourage people with flu-like symptoms to excuse themselves from the Temple to protect themselves and the community.
- No items such as rice, oil, milk, or any type of food or fruit from outside will be accepted as an offering at the Temple.
- We recommend devotees who are 60 or older and/or those with any underlying medical conditions to excuse themselves from the Temple and other large gatherings out of abundance of caution.
We respectfully request the devotees to understand the magnitude of the current crisis and accept these procedures as necessary and only temporary in nature. We pray along with all of you for normal circumstances to return so that we are able to fully participate in the Temple activities. Rest assured that these decisions are being made very carefully with due respect to the religious sentiments of the devotees and the acute needs of our community at a time of a crisis the likes of which we have never seen.
Nadadur S. Kumar
General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer
Hindu Temple Society of Southern California