[email protected]

A prominent Debe pundit and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19.

Since his hospitalisation, many of his family, friends and devotees are now scared that they too may have contracted the virus.

A relative who requested anonymity said yesterday that both the pundit and his wife are warded at the Couva Hospital and were said to be doing well.

Both were picked up at their home by police last week Thursday and were taken straight to the Couva Hospital after they began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

However, the relative said although the pundit was hospitalised Hindu devotees from Ramai Trace were continuing to have hour-long prayer sessions on Friday nights which are attended by 30 to 50 people.

“People seem to think that if they pray and do pooja they will be safe but they are not realising that the only way to be safe is to stay inside and do not congregate,” the relative added.

Meanwhile, the spiritual head of SWAHA Inc, Paramacharya Pundit Hardeo Persad, called on Hindus to uphold social distancing.

“At present, many citizens are celebrating or are preparing to celebrate some religious occasion: Easter, Ramadan or, in the context of Hindus, Nauraatum and upcoming Raam Navami and Hanuman Jayanti celebrations. It is indeed portentous that such a flourish of religious occasions coincides with the current pandemic that plagues. Although mass congregation cannot and should not happen now, we can and should continue to worship in the safety of our homes,” Persad said.

Saying Dharma or duty is a quintessential principle of Hinduism and one that ought to steer people forward at all times, Persad said, “It is in this light that civic duty or civic responsibility is of utmost importance in current circumstances—stay at home and pray with increased reverence, devotion and sanctity.”

He noted that for Hindus, Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti are two key upcoming religious celebrations.

“Let us prepare our minds and bodies to fulfil our spiritual obligations while maintaining the laws of the land. God is omnipresent and can, therefore, be worshipped anywhere. I, therefore, urge you to celebrate these occasions in your homes, using any of the following methods prescribed in Hinduism,” he said.

He encouraged Hindus to intensify their devotion and abide by the restrictions at this time.

“There are many benefits to be gained in maximising this solitude. It is an opportunity to reflect on your spiritual growth and the ways in which you can advance mentally and spiritually,” he said.

“Let’s not waste this peculiar opportunity that we have been given. Remember that to every beginning there is an end. Every cloud has a silver lining and the darkness that hovers over our land will eventually pass.”