Mangaluru (Karnataka), Sep 14 : The ancient Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district reopened on Monday, 173 days after it was shut due to Covid-induced lockdown and its extension.
"We reopened over 5 months after we remaining closed since March 25 when lockdown was enforced and extended late.
Devotees have resumed coming to the temple since morning," a temple official told IANS in Kannada on phone.
In contrast to about 3,000 people visiting daily in the pre-Covid days, about 500 entered the temple till it was closed for afternoon recess.
Located in the heart of Subrahmanya village, about 100km southeast of Mangaluru in Sullia taluk of the southern state, the temple's is dedicated to Hindu god Subrahmanya.
"As entry and movement of devotees are regulated to maintain social distancing and avoid crowding to prevent the pandemic, only 30 Sarpa Samskara, Naga Prathishte and Ashlesha Bali rituals were allowed to be performed," said the official.
The temple, which runs under the state Muzrai (endowment) department, has also resumed offering prasad and serving meals to the devotees who throng the holy places from across the country and overseas.
"Devotees are allowed inside wearing mask and maintaining physical distance between them.
They are allowed inside the sanctum and sanctorum one-by-one and not in groups after they wash their hands with sanitiser," said the official.
All devotees are also checked at the entrance with a thermal scanner to ensure they are free from the virus and their body temperature is normal.
Devotees performing Sarpa Samskara seva (service) have also been allowed to stay in the temple guest house for 2 days as per the guidelines.
As religious places were not allowed to reopen till unlock 4 to avoid large gatherings, hundreds of temples across the state suffered financial loss in the absence of donations and offerings from thousands of devotees.
"The temple is the abode of nagas (serpents) where the main deity presides with serpent king Vasuki merged in him.
Hundreds of devotees come here from across the country and overseas to perform rituals like Sarpa Samskara to free them from sarpa dosha (snake curse)," the official added.
People affected by sarpa dosha or diseases not cured by medication perform special pujas to fulfill their wishes.