Tehran: With mosques in Iran closed as it battles the coronavirus, worshippers have adopted the novel solution of getting behind the wheel at drive-ins to gather during Ramadan.
Iran on Friday announced 63 more deaths, but said the rate of fatalities and infections were dropping.
The deaths recorded in the past 24 hours brought to 6,091 the overall toll from the illness in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 1,006 people tested positive.
“We have seen drops in the numbers of infections and deaths in recent days,” Jahanpour said, hoping that Iran would get close to “controlling” the outbreak with people observing health protocols.
The new infections brought to 95,646 the number recorded in the Islamic republic since it announced its first cases in mid-February.
More than 76,300 of those have been released from hospital after recovering.
Gatherings have been banned in Iran.
Deprived of the opportunity to pray at mosques following iftar, families are jumping into their cars to attend drive-in religious ceremonies.
At a car park in Tehran on Thursday night, more than 100 cars were assembled in front of a giant screen to follow a religious ceremony.
“During this quarantine with mosques closed, we really missed [religious] ceremonies,” said Fatemeh, a chador-clad woman sitting in one of the cars with her family.
“When I read on Instagram that this had been set up, I found it to be really creative and beautiful,” said the 28-year-old public servant.
Attendants guided cars towards designated spots facing a giant, retrofitted screen at Eram Amusment Park in the west of the capital.
Called the ‘Nights of Longing’, the ceremony started with a music video showing the funeral of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in neighbouring Iraq in January.
In front of the rows of cars, men with loose-fitting surgical masks stood on a stage singing Shiite chants, their image projected onto the screen behind them.
Young families sat inside the cars, their faces glowing in the dark from the bright screen.
The orange indicator lights of the cars flashed on and off as children peeked out of sunroofs to get a better view.
For the worshippers, the drive-in was an opportunity to get back to the normal way of things without disregarding social distancing.
“I believe this creative solution is a real example of crisis management, and a beautiful one,” said Mohammad, a teacher attending with his wife and son.
“With many deprived of what they wished for and dreamt of, [the organisers] made it possible for them to be here,” he said.