Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Religion offers a ray of hope amidst the ravages of the pandemic


By Muneer Shamee

As scientist and politicians struggle for a response to the coronavirus, many people are turning to faith. The Covid- 19 pandemic has impacted religion on various faiths – the closure of sunday church, cancellation of friday prayers as well as pilgrimages and festivals. Religion is the solace of first resort for billions of people grappling with pandemic. With both sanitizer and leadership in short supply, dread over the coronavirus has driven the globe’s faithful even more closure to religion and ritual. Religious beliefs and practices are known to help individuals cope with time of stress, and in many studies associated with less anxiety and greater hope especially in older adult populations. During the week following 9/11 terrorist attacks, 90% of Americans turned to religion for hope. Because religious faith is an important source for health and well beings for many older adults.

But some practices raise public health concerns. Believers worldwide are running a foul of public health authorities’ warnings that communal gatherings, the keystone of so much religious practice, must be limited to combat the virus’s spread. In some case, religious fervour has led people towards cures that have no grounding in science, in otherwords, it has drawn them to sacred places or rites that could increase the risk of infection. The anchors of religious practice have taken one greater urgency just as religious authorities move to restrict them. Houses of worship are closed or empty. People around the world are changing the way they do things – some have cut back on travel plans and are avoiding crowded spaces.  Others have dropped greetings like handshakes and hugs for elbow bumps and foot shakes. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are also changing rituals in a effort to contain the spread of the virus. Priests now place a wafer in people’s hands rather than on their tongues, and have stopped giving wine in the communal chalice.

 The Grand Mosque in Mecca is usually packed with thousands of muslim pilgrims, but there has been a dramatic fall in visitors to what Islam holiest sites. Muslims didn’t take part in ‘Idul- Fitr’, Idul Adha salaat and famous Muharram during coronavirus lockdown. For Hindus this was the time of year when ‘Holi’, ‘Poila Baisak’ is celebrated, but many people didn’t take part in festivities over the weekend, albeit, with some precautions taken, such as wearing face masks churches are offerings mass online and on TV, Muslims pilgrimage of ‘Umrah’ are temporarily suspended.  Religion and spirituality can impact decision regarding diet, medicines based in animals products, modesty and health provider. Health care providers should be respectful of a patient’s religious and spiritual needs. There is ergency in people faith and belief. People are anxious over the disease to be cured and soon  their normalcy be restored in the daily life.  Many patients anxieties are reduced when they turn to faith during healthcare challenges. Because many people turn to beliefs when difficult healthcare decisions are made.

(Author is a columnist. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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