Gurdwara hygiene during Covid-19

According Birmingham Post :

Half of Sikh deaths in West Midlands in two weeks ‘due to coronavirus’ – community groups claim

Could this have to do with our lifestyles? Visiting gurdwaras? What are the risks involved of spreading Covid-19 by our visits to the Gurdwara?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of infection spreading points:

  1. Gurdwara premises entry door handles
  2. Shoe deposit (ਜੋੜਾ ਘਰ)
  3. Washing hands
  4. Toilets
  5. Head scarves
  6. Handrails on the steps to the main Hall (ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ)
  7. Main Hall door handles
  8. Paying respect (ਮੱਥਾ ਟੇਕਣਾ) in front of Granth Sahib
  9. Main Donation box (ਗੋਲਕ)
  10. Ragi/Kirtan Jatha donations
  11. Sitting and/or getting up in the hall using our hands
  12. Parkarma
  13. Parshad serving (ਕੜਾਹ ਪ੍ਰਸ਼ਾਦ ਲੈਣਾ)
  14. then repeating the steps 6, 5, 2, 3, 4, 1 in the order

Here is a another set of points compiled by Santokh Singh Sidhu of UK:

  • Pages of Granth Sahib i.e. turning over
  • Food preparation – strict hygiene rules observed?
  • Sufficient sinks to wash hands before and after; preparing and eating foods.
  • Toilets and W/C facilities – regularly cleaned, checked and disinfected?
  • Lifts in the building – regularly cleaned, checked and disinfected?
  • Sitting on carpets/sheets in the Darbar Sahib where another person was sitting
  • Whilst sitting in the Darbar Sahib – possible/practical to keep social distance?
  • Sitting on carpets/sheets without socks or sweaty/infected feet
  • Rule of removing socks when going on stage or in the vicinity of Granth Sahib 
  • Using our hands to help us sit down or get up in the Darbar Sahib
  • Rumala Sahib – coverings on Granth Sahib, touched by various people

The most critical points of infections are:
– Paying respect (ਮੱਥਾ ਟੇਕਣਾ) in front of Granth Sahib. Here we place our hands, face and rub our nose (ਨੱਕ ਰਗੜਨਾ) right on the same 1 meter square. Its like using same towel cloth for hundreds of people.
– Parshad serving (ਕੜਾਹ ਪ੍ਰਸ਼ਾਦ ਸੇਵਾ) is the second spot where a Pathi (ਪਾਠੀ) is serving everyone without maintaining the minimum 2 meters social distance recommended to fight against Covid-19.
– Using our hands to help us sit down or get up in the Darbar Sahib is another source of spreading infections

Photo by: Ranjodh Singh

Langar Hall is another hot bed of Covid-19 infections where people sit in groups and all the volunteers (ਲੰਗਰ ਵਰਤਾਉਣ ਵਾਲਾ) and in particular ਪ੍ਰਸ਼ਾਦਾ (ਫੁਲਕਾ/ਰੋਟੀ) serving person can be a big vector in spreading the diseases.
The most risky job for getting infected are the one of collecting utensils (ਜੂਠੇ ਬਰਤਨ) from the public after they have eaten the langar and the volunteers serving in Shoes deposit (ਜੋੜਾ ਘਰ).

Ventilator fan switches, saropa around Granthi’s neck ( ਗ੍ਰੰਥੀ ਦਾ ਸਿਰੋਪਾਓ/ਪਰਨਾ/ਹਜੁਰੀਆ ), ਚਬਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ, microphones & mic stands, and musical instruments of ਰਾਗੀ ਜੱਥਾ, etc.. need attention. The same ਸਿਰੋਪਾਓ/ਪਰਨਾ ), ਚਬਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ, is used by different people for doing the same duty.

One can see from the above list we have tried to cover all the possible weak points in our system. Please don’t hesitate to send in your suggestions to improve our gurdwara visits and be safe from Covid-19.

Thanks to : Ranjod Singh for the beautiful photgraphs and Ajit Singh for Punjabi

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