Food catering at Sikh temples suspended to limit Covid-19 spread, scripture readings to be livestreamed

Equipment for livestreaming of programmes will be installed at the Central Sikh Temple (above) and Silat Road Sikh Temple over the next four weeks. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Food catering will be suspended and equipment for livestreaming of programmes will be installed at the Central Sikh Temple and Silat Road Sikh Temple over the next four weeks as the Sikh community heeds calls from the Government to be vigilant in their religious practices amid a global worsening of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Although weddings that have already been booked at the temples for the next three months can proceed, the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board said on Monday (March 16) that additional precautions such as stringent temperature-taking will be put in place, while advising elderly Sikhs to stay away from the gurdwars (temples) and crowded places until the coronavirus situation improves.

The latest announcement comes after a Muslim religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur between Feb 27 and March 1 - involving more than 10,000 people of various nationalities - emerged as a regional coronavirus cluster, prompting Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli to urge all religious groups here to step up efforts to protect its members.

In its statement on Monday, the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board said all forms of langgar, a sacred religious practice of catering food for visitors and devotees at Sikh temples, will be suspended.

Although an exception will be made for weddings ,the temples must separate the devotees into multiple points across two different levels of the gurdwara complex for langgar.

Gurpurabs, the celebration of anniversaries of Gurus' births, will also "be conducted in a simplified manner with utmost respect", the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board said.

Meanwhile, the reading of Sikh scriptures, or Sehaj Paath, will be carried out at fixed timings in the morning and afternoon for a week and broadcast on live stream "for sangat (devotees) to join in from the comfort of their homes".

"The Central Sikh Gurdwara Board's priority is to safeguard the health of our sangat visiting the gurdwara as well as the wider Singapore community and indeed humanity... We sincerely hope that the sangat will understand why these measures (are) needed while we continue religious activities at the gurdwaras," the statement said.

The Straits Times understands that most, if not all, langgar has been suspended for now, as gurdwaras across the country continue to pay close attention to new coronavirus developments.

A spokesman of Gurdwara Sahib Yishun said that no plans for livestreaming of services are in the works for the temple for now.

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