Belur Math, the global headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, on Monday opened its doors to devotees, after a gap of 82 days, with around 250 people turning up at its riverside temples to offer prayers. A spokesman at Belur Math said the four temples on its premises remained open in two phases during the day - from 9 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.
All devotees were subjected to thermal screening and those without masks were turned away, he said.
"We have marked spaces where devotees can stand conforming to social distancing norms. Multiple announcements were made asking everyone to follow safety guidelines. Not more than 10 people were allowed inside at a time. Also, flowers were not allowed as offerings," the senior monk said.
Located on the west bank of Hooghly River, Belur Math, founded by Swami Vivekananda, is notable for its architecture that fuses Christian, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist art motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions.
Every visitor got a chance to offer prayers at the main temple, but none was allowed to loiter around or sit by the river banks.
Several places of worship have unlocked their doors for the devotees since the beginning of the month, in keeping with the government guidelines.
Some religious places, such as Tarapith and Kalighat temples, however, continue to remain out of bounds, as the authorities there have sought more time to put in place necessary safety measures.
Centuries-old Dakshineswar temple, built by Rani Rashmoni in 19th century, also on banks of Hooghly, threw open its gates on June 13.
The management at Tarapith temple, a Shakti Peeth in Birbhum district that draws thousands from across the country, had, earlier, announced that it would unbolt the doors of the shrine from June 15.
"We have put our decision on hold for now. The prevailing situation is deeply concerning as the number of COVID-19 cases is rising rapidly," the temple committee's secretary Taramoy Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee also said that the authorities of the temple are looking forward to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with the chief ministers this week.
"We are waiting to see what decision the government will take regarding the lockdown. The committee has convened a meeting on June 20 to deliberate on the issue," he said.
Another revered shrine, the Bakreshwar temple in Birbhum, unbolted its doors on Monday, with the management claiming that it has taken necessary precautions.
The state government has allowed all places of worship to unbolt their doors for the devotees from June 1, while stressing that safety protocols have to be strictly followed at all shrines.