Only a handful of devotees were seen queuing up outside prominent places of worship in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal on Monday, even as the Mamata Banerjee government granted permission for restricted entry to the shrines.
Several temples and mosques, however, sought more time to open their gates, as they made safety arrangements to avoid COVID-19 transmission.
Not more than 10 devotees were allowed to line up at a time at the entrance of Thanthania Kalibari in north Kolkata, one of the oldest temples in the city, its spokesperson said.
The priests at the shrine partially opened the gates for the devotees to offer prayers, while flowers and ''prasad'' were handed out to them through gaps in collapsible gates.
"All devotees were made to wash hands and wear masks prior to handing over their offerings to the priests. Shops selling flowers and incense sticks were told to spray disinfectants on the baskets before selling them.
"As of now, people will have to offer prayers to the deity from a distance. No one will be allowed near the sanctum sanctorum," the spokesperson said.
At the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) headquarters in Mayapur, an official said safety of the common people was of "paramount importance" and arrangements were being made to procure thermal scanners in adequate numbers.
"We are planning to open the Chandrodaya temple and are in the process of procuring screening equipment. However we have not been able to reach at any particular date for reopening the temple," the official told PTI.
Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, a committee member of the Behala Gurdwara, said over 100 people had gathered near the shrine, shortly after the gates were opened.
"All devotees were checked with thermal guns. Our volunteers made sure that people maintained distance from one another. The visitors were allowed to go inside the gurdwara in phases," Mr Ahluwalia, who is also a prominent member of the Sikh community in the city, said.
Wearing masks, a few visitors were seen entering the city's churches during the day.
"There was no service in the churches today, but worshippers visited the prayer hall, which opened after around two months. The security at the gates gently requested them to sanitize hands before entering the church. Those that came without wearing masks were turned away," Father Dominic Gomes of the Archdiocese Kolkata said.
The chairman of the Bengal Imams' Association, Md Yahia, said he had no information about any mosque opening its doors.
The association has as many as 26,000 mosque committees under its fold.
Imams had earlier sought more clarifications and requisite guidelines from the government on its last week's notification, which had stated that not more than 10 faithfuls would be allowed at any place of worship at a time.
Small crowds were also witnessed on Monday outside the Shyambazar Kali temple, Konnagar Bisalakshi Ma Mandir, Bolpur Kankalitala and the Ekteswar Shiva Temple in Bankura.
However, some noteworthy temples such as the ones at Dakshineswar, Kalighat, Tarapith and Belur Math remained out of bounds, as authorities there sought more time to make necessary arrangements, in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines laid down by the government.
Kalyan Karmakar, spokesperson of the Kalighat temple committee, said, "Simply washing hands before entering the temple was not enough".
"We have to install sanitiser dispensers at several points before throwing open the temple," he added.