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Famous temples no longer remain just a place of worship
MEGHA V CHOUDHARY | Saturday, 1 October 2016 AT 09:43 PM IST
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A few days ago, a video footage by a regional TV channel was making rounds on social networking sites. The video was of one of the most famous Sarvajanik Ganpati pandals in Mumbai. It was really shocking to see how two men were thrashing devotees (most of them women) and not even allowing them to have a glimpse of 'Bappa'. Well, this is not the lone incident where devotees were misbehaved with or ill-treated as this happens in many famous temples in the country as well. Today, many of the famous temples have undergone a major transformation and no longer remain just a place of worship. With rapid commercialisation, temples are slowly losing the very essence of their existence. Trusts' shops in the vicinity of many famous religious places will give you a feel of a market rather than a place of worship where you find solace.

'Great ambience and serenity, good infrastructure with all the facilities available in the vicinity...' This is not an advertisement of any housing project but the description of how temples flourish. And when it comes to getting a glimpse of your deity you must shell out some money if you want to get special darshan to avoid the long serpentine queue. Also, there are categories for darshan – general or free darshan, special darshan, VIP darshan and it goes on and on. Also for performing puja there are categories – Abhisheks starting from Rs 101, Rs 501, Rs 1,001... Rs 51,000 and there is no limit.  

Temples are certainly the soul of Indian society but commercialisation of many world-famous Indian temples is really a matter of concern for the common man where he needs to pay some amount of money even for the 'prasad'.

The religious trusts are getting richer and richer with each passing day thanks to the donations and offerings they get from the 'special devotees'. These devotees get an opportunity to perform puja, abhishek and other rituals with ease while other (general) devotees struggle to have a glimpse of the deity with the security guards making all their efforts not to allow you stand even for a minute to see the idol. Religious leaders say all are one in front of God then why this discrimination?

In many of the famous temples in Maharashtra, one can see two-storey, three-storey houses of priests in the vicinity of the temple, some are even adjoining the temple walls. During peak season, you will find many such priests offering quick darshan for Rs 3,000, Rs 5,000 and it goes up and up according to the rush of devotees and the amount they are ready to pay to have a glimpse of their deity. There is no end to the greed of these priests.

The temple trust uses the donation money in temple works. They run shops in the vicinity of the temple and don't allow you to take anything from outside which means you are bound to buy water and some eatables from these shops only, especially if you have children with you.

Instead of filling their own pockets in the name of God, they can do some charity or undertake development work for society at large. Though many religious trusts are involved in charity works, the number is still very less as most of the religious bodies are not open to such ideas.
 
They make temples full of gold, but can they at least provide a hut to a family living on the street? It is appreciable that many temple trusts provide free food to devotees and even donate eatables to beggars but it will be more appreciable if they also sponsor a free meal for government's mid-day meal scheme or run their own shelter homes for the destitute.

The rich religious trusts can also adopt a village and transform it into a smart village. They can even sponsor poor children's education or run a school for children hailing from economically poor families.  

Well, only time will tell whether these religious bodies will continue to work for their own good or for the society at large.

In the name of god-



Instead of filling their own pockets in the name of God, the religious bodies can do some charity or undertake development work for the society at large. Though many religious trusts are involved in charity, the number is still very less as most of them are not open to such ideas.
 
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