2020/04/27 Guidance regarding current and forthcoming Religious festivals

To Community, Faith and Voluntary Groups,

We would like to share with you some guidance around Religious festivals –

During Ramadan, Muslim residents are being asked not to visit mosques but to continue to stay at home and pray.

 In view of the current situation with the increasing numbers in Covid related deaths, restrictions remain in place for the foreseeable future. In fact, further restrictions could be imposed if the situation does not improve.

 Taking this into account, with the holy month of Ramadan upon us, Imams and community leaders need to prepare the community for Ramadan in isolation.

 In line with the Government guidance and the current agreed arrangements those individuals who are employed as Imams who fall in the low risk category from each Mosque are allowed to attend the Mosque for prayers and undertake the spiritual and pastoral service that they provide to our communities. Other employees e.g. caretaker, admin officer of Mosques who need access are permitted to enter by exception and on a case-by-case basis.

 The Lancashire Resilience Forum is working closely with representatives of all faith groups across Lancashire to communicate a range of issues around faith, religion and culture during this difficult time.

 Neil Shaw, Chair of Lancashire Resilience Forum’s Faith group said: “We are consulting with all faith groups. We understand that during Ramadan, many Muslims take advantage of this month by engaging in prayers and spending more time at their local mosque.  This Ramadan will be different and to help communities fulfil their faith obligations we would encourage that although national physical distancing measures are in place that communities stay socially connected through non-physical contact such as phone, social media and video.

 “We know that this is a very difficult time for everyone, but please continue to stay safe and pray at home especially during Ramadan and adhere to the Government guidelines around social distancing, which we know saves lives.”

 Most Imams are already delivering speeches on a daily basis through their public address systems and may want to continue to use this platform to deliver the key messages and spiritual guidance to the community.

 Rafiq Sufi, Chair of Lancashire Council of Mosques said: “Everyone has a duty to follow the Government’s request to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. I urge residents to follow the instruction and avoid getting together with people outside of their immediate household to partake in Iftaar meals or Taraweeh when Ramadan starts end of next week.”

 Other festivals which will be affected by government guidelines to stay at home, include the upcoming Pagan Festival, Beltane, on 1st May. The Pagan Federation will be running an online Beltane festival on Facebook.com/paganfederation

 21st May Ascension Day and 31st May, Pentecost Sunday, are also key dates within the Christian community when traditionally there is a tradition of walks and outdoor services.

The Preston Nagar Kirtan scheduled for 17th May has been cancelled by the Sikh community.

 Neil Shaw added: “We thank the local communities for abiding to what is difficult to sacrifice, as these worships are core to people’s faith. We appreciate these are difficult times and we need the whole community to co-operate and trust the process to be balanced and respectful of the broad needs of the community.”