Indian priests pray for the mercy of goddess Corona
Two "Corona Devi" idols have been erected in Coimbatore, a southern city hard impacted by an outbreak that has killed 100,000 people across the country in the last four weeks.
Because of the city's high infection rates, the Kamatchipuri Adhinam temple is closed to visitors, but priests are paying homage in front of the goddesses, one of whom is made of sandalwood and the other of stone.
They leave food and other gifts, pray for an end to the epidemic and bathe the idols with turmeric water, and milk.
"We have had similar temples for smallpox, chickenpox, and plague in the past," said temple manager Anandbharathi K.
"We are worshipping the virus in the form of a Goddess and praying to her every day to reduce the impacts of this disease," he added.
While the number of cases in India is decreasing, the country's 1.3 billion inhabitants have been stunned by the intensity of the newest pandemic wave, which has overloaded hospitals and resulted in major oxygen and drug shortages.
"Even doctors are unable to deal with the enormity of the situation. So, we turn to faith and God as a last resort," Anandbharathi said.
For another seven weeks, the priests intend to continue praying to the "Corona Devi" idols.
In India, a Hindu-dominated nation, it is said crores of deities (tens of millions; 330 million Gods & Goddesses precisely) are worshipped by the followers of the faith.
Also known as the 'Sanatana Dharma' or the Eternal way in Sanskrit, Hindu texts say the origin and presence of the dharma precede human history.
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF ASHOK SWAIN VIA TWITTER