Dear Devotees and Visitors

Vanakkam Devotees

The Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) was first reported in early December 2019. The virus rapidly spread throughout the world by persons travelling between different countries. Considering the magnitude and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organisation declared the spread of the coronavirus a global pandemic in January 2020. On 05 March 2020, the first case of
COVID-19 was diagnosed in South Africa and on 15 March 2020, the South African Government declared the coronavirus outbreak as a national state of disaster.

On the 21 st March 2020, the Council of the Shri Vaithianatha Easvarar Alayam (Umgeni Road Temple) decided to close the Temple to the public due to the Corona Virus pandemic. This unprecedented decision was informed by the epidemiology of the virus and was in the best interest of the Devotees and to curb the spread of this devastating and rapidly spreading virus. During this period the Alayam continued with daily Abishegam and Naivedhya and in addition, Kavady and all other festivals were observed as per the almanac in keeping with our tradition and culture. All prayers were conducted by the Priests of the Alayam.

On 27 March 2020, the Government implemented Stage 5 Lockdown which prohibited all religious, social and sporting gatherings and in April 2020, there was a relaxation on the restrictions as the Government introduced Stage 4 Lockdown, but the prohibition of religious, social and sporting gatherings continued. On 01 June 2020, the Government introduced Stage 3 Lockdown which allowed religious gatherings limited to a maximum of 50 persons with strict measures with regards to social distancing, sanitizing measures and personal hygiene. In view of the latest Government regulation, some members of Council consulted with the Elders and the Priests of the Alayam to discuss the Government’s directive on religious gatherings during Level 3 Lockdown.

The discussions reviewed the epidemiology, pathophysiology and prognostic implications of the coronavirus. It is noted that despite the introduction of strict lockdown measures soon after the first case was detected in South Africa, there are now more than 73000 reported cases and over 1500 reported deaths. Whilst it was expected that there were going be an increase in the number of infections, the rapid increase in the number of reported cases and reported deaths since the introduction of Stage 3 Lockdown, is alarming. In the last few days the Country has recorded over 3000 new cases daily. Furthermore the number of severe infections and deaths are increasing rapidly. In addition, it is reported that countries that were able to control the virus are now having a second wave of infections.

The coronavirus spreads mainly from person to person. This happens between people who are in close contact with one another. Droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or breathes may infect another person directly when the droplets lands on their mouth or noses or are inhaled. Aerosol droplets from infected persons may float or drift around in
the air for approximately three hours. Another person may breathe these droplets and become infected. Furthermore droplets from infected persons may fall on any surface or doorknobs, countertops, etc and persons may become infected when they touch these surfaces and then touch their mouths, nose or eyes. The virus can live on surfaces like plastic, wood and stainless steel form a
few hours up to 7 days.

The incubation period for the virus is approximately 5 days. It is postulated that persons infected with the coronavirus may spread it to others 2 to 3 days before symptoms start and are most contagious 1 to 2 days before they feel sick. Thus the infection may be spread by infected persons with or without symptoms. The infection is particularly severe in persons above the age of 60 years and persons with diabetes, cardiac disease, respiratory disease and other chronic diseases. These persons are at high risk for becoming severely ill with a high mortality rate. Whilst younger persons and children may not have a severe form of the disease, they are still infectious and can infect other persons.

There is no cure for COVID-19. The possibility of developing a vaccine is still many months away. The Coronavirus infection is an unprecedented challenge for the medical community and new information is surfacing about the virus daily. Whilst the majority of persons infected with the virus survive, whether patients will develop long term side effects after being infected is still not known. Whilst the case infection rate is reported to be between 1-3%, it must be noted that a report on the early infection in a Durban hospital reveals that one person resulted in the infection of approximately 135 persons with about 15 deaths. Thus, confined spaces or public gatherings may result in a higher infection rate. Therefore the best advice at present is to prevent the spread of the virus. This entails, amongst other measures, stay at home as far as possible, social distancing, washing of hands and other personal hygiene measures.

Noting the above it was decided, in the best interest of the Devotees, to continue with the closure of the Alayam to the Public. The Priests of the Alayam will continue with daily Abishegam and Naivedhya. At these daily prayers, the wellbeing of all is being prayed for. All forthcoming prayer festivals as per the Alayam’s almanac will be observed as per our tradition and culture with full Abishegam, daily prayers and Naivedhya. As a service to the Alayam’s many devotees, Guru may be contacted on 031-3123772 for telephonic advice on prayers and auspicious days. It is humbly requested that devotees observe the Prayers from their homes. Devotees wishing to contribute to the daily Abishegams and the Obayams of the forthcoming prayers, may make direct deposit into the Alayam’s bank account by EFT. The banking details of the Alayam are noted below.

As the situation unfolds, we will inform devotees of changes. We trust that all South Africans will adhere to all precautionary measures to curb the spread of this contagious and deadly virus.

Mika Nandri

Yours in the service of Shri Vaithianatha
SVEA Council

Banking Details

  • Name of Bank: First National Bank
  • Branch: Florida Road
  • Branch Code: 220526
  • Account Number: 50741271543