In Tamil Nadu, religious institutions too step in to provide COVID-19 relief

Helping families in distress during the second wave, they have been opening quarantine centres, distributing provision kits, masks, funding vaccines

Pontiffs and volunteers of various religious institutions are leading the COVID-19 relief works in several districts in Tamil Nadu. Helping families in distress during the second wave, they have been opening quarantine centres, distributing provision kits, masks, funding vaccines and paying salaries in full.

The Dharumapuram Aadheenam’s 27th pontiff Masilamani Desika Gnanasambanda Paramacharya Swamigal, who wanted to create awareness among the public, took the second dose of the corona vaccine at a local hospital.

Mutt spokesperson Pannai C. Siva said the first round of vaccination for all staff and volunteers was arranged on the Mutt premises itself. Last year they had given jobs to a thousand men to renovate the buildings belonging to the Aadheenam, he added.

Fee waiver

At the Mayilam Bommapuram Aadheenam, the Sivagnanam Palaya Swamigal has distributed rice and provisions to residents of Bommiarpalayam and Irulas and Narikuravas near Mayilam. Mutt spokesperson S. Thirunavukkarasu said they had not insisted upon students of two colleges being run by the Mutt to pay their fees with the result that hardly anybody paid the fees. “The pontiff said they were from poor families and cannot afford to pay fees. Despite the fact that there is no income from the fees, the Mutt has paid the salaries of 150 persons fully all these months,” he said. The Mutt has sponsored masks and bleaching powder too.

The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam has converted the 30-bed Sankara Multi Speciality Hospital into a COVID-19 care facility. “We are at present treating patients with mild symptoms and waiting for uninterrupted oxygen facility to provide full-fledged services. To ensure functioning of the hospital’s out-patient facility, the Mutt has given one of its buildings to the hospital. A quarantine facility has also been set up at the Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya University, which is also waiting for oxygen.

The Jayendra Saraswati Ayurveda College is giving medicines at subsidised rates to increase immunity. It has also asked devotees to raise funds to sponsor the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The Hindu Mission Hospital and the Kamakoti Child’s Trust hospital too are providing treatment for those afflicted with COVID-19.

Kanchi Sankaracharya Sri Vijayendra Saraswati has asked health services connected with the Math to provide treatment for COVID-19 patients in the best possible way, said a Mutt spokesperson.

Three groups

The Archdiocese of Madras – Mylapore has set up three groups to help COVID-19 patients. Episcopal Vicar of the Archdiocese Father Vincent Chinnadurai said they had formed three teams, one was a data team that kept tab of hospital beds, arranges ambulances and oxygen cylinders. The second team collected and distributed food to those in need and the third one ensured proper burials. “Secretary of the Youth Commission Fr. Ronald Richard is co-ordinating these services. Seven youngsters have volunteered for this and they stay at the Santhome school under quarantine. Four young priests have also come forward to perform services at the cemetery,” he said.

Quarantine centre

The Masjid Javeed at 3rd Avenue in Anna Nagar has opened a quarantine centre for persons who are COVID-19 negative and need a place to stay for a few days. “It has been two days now and people keep asking us if we can take in COVID-19 positive persons, which we can’t,” said Mosque Committee secretary M. Mohammed Yousuf.

Volunteers of the medical wing of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) continue offering a decent burial or cremation of COVID-19 victims, a service they started last year. They have lent a helping hand with over 2,100 cases of different faiths so far.

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