Adding another relaxation to its staggered reopening post lockdown, Tamil Nadu government has allowed public to hold political and public meetings, religious gatherings, sports and cultural events with a maximum of 50% capacity in open places, beginning December 19, Saturday. Notably, December is a period of high activity in Chennai during which time a host of cultural events are organised.
However, organisers will have to secure prior permission from the district administration and corporation officials to conduct such meetings. In Tamil Nadu, Section 144 that restricts gathering of more than five persons in public places was in place even until the end of October.
The novel coronavirus pandemic, among other things, had put a stop to all forms of public gatherings. While announcing further relaxations that were to come into effect from November 16, the Tamil Nadu government had allowed cultural, social, religious, educational, political and general events with a maximum of 100 participants. Cinema theatres too were allowed to reopen with 50% seating and other restrictions.
Meanwhile, it has been announced that devotees will not be allowed inside the ancient Sri Parthasarathy Swamy temple in Chennai in the early hours of December 25 for the opening of Paramapathavasal gate due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The opening of the 'heavenly' gate during Vaikunta Ekadasi, an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Vishnu during Margashirsha (December-January), at the 8th-century temple attracts several lakhs of devotees, many of whom throng the shrine all through the night.
"This time, due to the pandemic and owing to the implementation of standard operating procedure laid down by the state government, it has been decided not to allow devotees between 4.30 am and 6.30 am on Vaikunta Ekadasi," a senior Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department official told PTI.
He said the devotees would, however, be allowed after the ceremonial opening of the gate but "they should either register (online) or purchase a darshan ticket to enter the temple." The entry of devotees will be regulated depending upon the crowd.
(With inputs from PTI)