Iran’s shrines reopen after over two months of closure

Tehran, May 25 (efe-epa).- Iran reopened its shrines and temples on Monday where the faithful gathered after over two months of closure to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The reopening of the country’s main shrines, including Imam Reza in Mashhad, Fatima Masumeh in Qom and the Imamzadeh Saleh and Shah Abdul Azim mausoleums in Tehran unfolded with restrictions on hours and amid strict hygiene measures with access only to courtyards.

Early in the morning, dozens gathered in the outdoor area of ??the Saleh tomb, son of the seventh Shiite Imam, to pay their respects and pray.

Those responsible for the shrines patrolled the grounds to ensure crowds did not form and that the faithful engaged in short prayers.

Visitors approached the gates to the tomb of saints to greet them from a distance as it is customary to pray inside the sanctuaries.

“I am very happy that the door of the shrine has been opened. Hopefully, this calamity will be eliminated as soon as possible from Iran and from all over the world,” Roghaye Meshkani, a 47-year-old woman, tells Efe.

Meshkani said she prayed the mausoleum room would soon be open for prayer “like it was in the past.”

As the tomb chamber was not open, women were not required to wear the traditional chador that covers the entire body.

The clothing and hygiene measures were tighter at the Shah Abdul Azim shrine in southern Tehran. Shah Abdol Azim was a fifth descendant of Hasan ibn ‘Ali, revered among Shia Muslims.

At the front door, worshipers were required to wear masks, get their temperature taken and were given a pair of gloves as well as being asked to go through disinfection tunnels.

In Shah Abdolazim, women did have to enter with a chador, but they were not provided by the temple as in the past with women bringing their own from home.

The reopening of the Mashhad mausoleum, the largest in Iran as it houses the remains of eighth Shiite Imam Reza, occurred Sunday night with a thanksgiving ceremony.

Iranian shrines were closed in mid-March after a sharp spike in the number of coronavirus infections which so far have reached 130,000 and killed 7,400.

The outbreak began in the city of Qom, which houses the Fatima Masumeh mausoleum and the main Shiite seminaries. It was here where photos of a man licking areas of the temple to demonstrate the disease could not be contracted in a holy place were taken.

The closing of shrines triggered a wave of protests among religious communities who gathered at the doors of temples to demonstrate their anger. EFE-EPA


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