By By Pragya Kaushika
New Delhi [India], April 4 (ANI): With the country battling against COVID-19, worship places of Jews and Parsis in Delhi have played a proactive role in the efforts to contain the spread of the disease so that it does not impact their small population.
While the Jewish synagogue at Humayun Road was closed for the faithful on March 6, much before Janta Curfew on March 22, the entry to Parsi temple was restricted and then closed with the announcement of lockdown on March 24.
Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, priest and honorary secretary of Judah Hyam Synagogue, told ANI that the entry to the synagogue for prayers was stopped from March 6. It is the only place of worship for Jews in North India.
"We are a minuscule minority in the country and a very small number of members live in Delhi. We are 5000 Jews and mostly reside in Mumbai with few in Pune, Gujarat, Kerala, Kolkata, and Cochin. It has been a month that I have not been allowing even the local Jewish community in the synagogue for prayers. I come here alone and say the prayers. I am observing the government guidelines strictly and appeal made by our respected PM," he said.
The Parsi temple - Delhi Parsi Anjuman - at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg was closed for worshippers on March 24 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown of 21 days.
The number of people coming to the place was limited before that, a source said.
The priest and a few staff members conduct prayers in the Parsi temple.
"We have put restrictions on the entry of outsiders to this place. Residents staying here were from Mumbai and left before the lockdown was announced on March 24," said a member of the Anjuman.
As it runs a kitchen as well, deliveries are being taken from the main gate and no vehicle is allowed inside.
Malekar said they will try and use technology for community prayers which will respect the norms of social distancing.
"One of my friends, also a member of the synagogue congregation, suggested that we should go for video conferencing. We will try that," he said.
Even though the two communities have small population, their places of worship get a lot of tourists and travelers. The two communities have a name trade and commerce with some top business persons hailing from the two faiths.
The synagogue in the national capital receives hundreds of foreign visitors from European countries.
There were approximately 300 tourists from Israel who were transported through a special flight of Air India, Malekar said.
He said there is no coronavirus case in the Jewish community.
Malekar said Chabad houses - there are two in Delhi - are not allowing people in and strictly following government guidelines.
He said Israel may be in his heart but India is in his blood. (ANI)