Hindu priests at an Indian temple are saying daily prayers to two coronavirus goddesses in an effort to tame the pandemic as the country battles a new infection surge.
Two “Corona Devi” idols have been set up in the southern city of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu state, badly hit in an outbreak that has killed 100,000 people nationwide in the past four weeks.
India on Thursday posted 211,298 new coronavirus cases over the last 24 hours, while deaths from COVID-19 rose by 3,847.
The South Asian country’s overall caseload is now at 27.37 million, while total fatalities are at 315,235, according to health ministry data.
The Kamatchipuri Adhinam temple is closed to worshippers because of Coimbatore’s high infection rates but priests are paying tribute in front of the goddesses, one made of sandalwood and the other from stone.
They leave food and other offerings, chant prayers urging an end to the pandemic and bathe the idols in turmeric water and milk.
“We have had similar temples for smallpox, chickenpox and plague in the past,” said temple manager Anandbharathi K.
“We are worshipping the virus in the form of a goddess and praying to her every day to reduce the impacts of this disease,” he added.
While case numbers are easing in much of India, the country of 1.3 billion people has been shocked by the severity of the latest wave of the pandemic, which overwhelmed hospitals and led to critical shortages of oxygen and medicines.
“Even doctors are unable to deal with the enormity of the situation. So we turn to faith and God as a last resort,” Anandbharathi said.
The priests plan to continue their prayers to the “Corona Devi” idols for another seven weeks.