Now that we are more than five months after the first virus case was detected on 25th December 2019 in a Wuhan wet fish market in China, the post COVID world looks very different from the world as we know it up until last year. The new Paradigm is lockdowns, social distancing, face masks, work from home, pay cuts, job losses, lack of income, huge migrant labor problem, lack of mobility. The impact has been severe on the world and national economies, communities, the way people interact with each other, physically and remotely. The impact thus also has been on religion, both organized or otherwise in the shape of sects, guru’s, spirituality shops and meditation, and yoga centers.
People can’t attend worship in temples join in mass Arti’s, Havan’s, Pooja’s as all this is restricted in the post COVID world. In a time of grave personal and business stress, who is mankind to look up to. Who will comfort us, listen to our sorrows, and show us the light? How will the masses get on with their day to day life without God and many of his manifestations? As Churches, temples, mosques stay empty, what will become of the priests, the astrologers, the Sant’s, and the Shankaracharya’s? Will they have to remodel their business models as they were, will they have two show some other version of God to the masses. How ill it impact Pooja and Prayer rituals? What will happen to the Quire boys singing in the churches? The Buddhist ceremonies at the Dharamshala?
We need God, Spiritually, and the comfort that faith provides us most in times like these, but we are unable to connect with him, with the whole business economy of God has collapsed due to the virus. This is where the Guru and Spiritual motivation evangelist will step in and exploit the situation. Most of these guys like Satguru, Sri Sri, DandPani, Deepak Chopra are all tech-savvy and have a well-connected technology system that connects them to their followers worldwide. But religious gatherings and congregations around the world have come to a standstill, it’s shutters down for the Business of religion. The Mecca has canceled Haj, the pope gave his first sermon on the net, there are no prayer meetings in the Vatican’s. No langar’s or Seva in the Gurudwara as the priest’s and religious leaders are asking peel to stay at home and stay without rituals. Big temples like Jyoti Linga’s, Tirupati Bala Ji have all shut up shop. So has God abandons us in our time of need? Some say the virus itself is the wrath of God, who is punishing us for our sins and the way we have pillaged and raped the environment, he has been especially unkind towards the powerful and rich nations like US, Europe, and China as these have seen the maximum death. This virus is not sparing anyone, rich, poor, young, old it is killing without reason, with all our technology and medical science we still have no answer or vaccine to combat it. Where will the common mango if even the religious temples the so-called shops of religion will also run them away?
The religious leader is doing sermons on the net or through apps to reach out to their delivers, but except for remains calm, vigilant, indoors and safe, they have no other advice to give people, ditto the mediation and spiritual gurus that have developed around Youtube and social media.
The true Gods of these times are the doctors, health workers, and the lorry drivers who are keeping some part of the system going at personal risk to themselves. The scientists who are slaving to find a cure for the disease. Like always people are looking at other human beings to save them from this calamity and those are the research workers in the lab’s, after all, they are the ones who can silver us the vaccines.
Humanity is confused and disorientated and there is no God around to turn to as community worship and prayers have dried out, even the priests stay away from their place of worship. I believe it is time for religion to go to the doorstep and the houses of the people rather than the other way around. Priests can carry aid, food parcels, and essentials to the people under the social distancing guidelines and even visit families to counsel them and give them the reassurance to faith during these confusing and perplexing times. Lift people out of this fear that they have been abandoning by the almighty and now will be punished and be damned into eternal hell where only Satan will rule. Instead just act as a patient listener, like a therapist, giving them tasks or daily rituals to conduct as part of their routine.
The noise of Azaan from the local mosque has been silent as worshipers can’t gather hug, kiss, or shake hands with each other. The thing that one is most used to is showing love and that too by some touch or physical intimacy, all that is a thing of the past now. Depression and domestic violence are on the increase as people are dealing up hep centers to give them counseling through the phone. That is one area that religion should move toward turn the priest and temple workers as counselors who can reach out directly to people on advice and hacks as to how to stay emotionally fit and increase immunity at times like these.
Till then the world looks to science to eradicate the virus, who will deliver us from the evil of destruction of our species, as of now humanity has only itself to look at. As God sees to have abandoned us as usual, there are no miracles, spiritual awakening, or mystical cures that have come to the fore. God as of now is an absentee landlord.