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Leading by example: Indian deities don masks to ‘spread awareness’ about coronavirus (PHOTO)

Leading by example: Indian deities don masks to ‘spread awareness’ about coronavirus (PHOTO)
Deities at a Varanasi temple in Uttar Pradesh, India have been sporting an unusual look lately – donning face masks to encourage worshippers to do the same and help stop the coronavirus outbreak, a priest says.

Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has credited the efforts of the health authorities to contain the outbreak for the lack of deaths and low number of cases, noting in an interview with the Indian Express on Monday that part of the campaign was to spread awareness among the general public about the disease, which, at first glance, can be mistaken for the flu.

Now, Indian deities have joined in the effort as well.

“We have put a mask on Lord Vishwanath to raise awareness about coronavirus. Just like we put clothes on the idols when it is cold and put ACs or fans when it's hot, we have put masks on the deities,” Krishna Anand Pandey, a priest at the Varanasi temple, said, as cited by ANI.

Worshippers are strongly discouraged from touching the idols in order to minimize the risk of catching the deadly virus, said Anand, who was reported wearing a mask during religious services.

Also on rt.com No need to panic: Modi urges world to embrace 'Namaste' greeting instead of handshakes to fight coronavirus

It’s not uncommon for Varanasi idols to be covered with masks. As India was being battered by extreme air pollution last November, several deities in the Shiv-Parvati temple, including Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali, also wore masks, with the priest explaining that the idols are treated like living creatures.

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