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By Prerna Grewal
The demand to stop the practice of issuing VIP tickets for having darshan at the temple is the new mantra of many devotees. Today, society and economy function together in a way that one’s class becomes a significant determinant of the privileges one is entitled to. Over time, people have become used to this model to the extent that it is more often than not reflected in their mentality.
The spiritual realm, a space for expression of faith, for taking a break from worldly hustle or for seeking hope has also been infected by this mentality. Under the pretext of satisfying all these purposes this mentality is gradually coming up as an alternate micro economy with its own norms of transactions and profits. The mentality or attitude of a minor yet influential section of today’s society is playing a significant role in letting this economy thrive.
An advocate had once filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking an end to the special darshan concept, since such a special categorization is in violation of Article 14 (equality before the eyes of the law).
The PIL drew attention to the fact that there was no regulation on the timings and no ceiling on the number of devotees in a special darshan group, thereby leading to various hardships for the ordinary devotees.
In this fast paced world, people don’t have a minute to spare, or at least they claim so, and want everything to be winded up as fast as possible. This attitude is exhibited also with respect to getting darshan of the deities as well. In cases like these, the purpose seems to be devoid of its essence.
It seems more like a practice that has to be followed for the sake of custom or status.“We have to visit 15 temples in five days, and a quickie darshan is the only way we can do it,”said Nandini Jayanth, an NRI, who embarked on a temple circuit during the famous ‘Chittirai’ festival in Madurai recently.
N. Raman, another NRI, said that every year he visits Srivilliputhur temple during the Andal birthday celebrations. “It is a massive crowd out there, and I cannot spend hours waiting for a darshan, and I have a gentleman’s agreement whereby I get waved through quickly”.
Obviously the agreements of many such “gentlemen” ensure the survival of this alternate economy. Accordingly it seems that not only God but even the time is a privilege of the influential. Apparently, the ordinary men aren’t as constrained as these special personages. The latter, because of being ‘important’ have more important responsibilities on their heads. But are they doing anyone a favor by sparing time for such “quickies”? If it’s being done out of a sense of compulsion, then it would be better if they simply avoided it and if they truly want to visit, then they might as well spare some time for it like hundreds of others.
Another important aspect that deserves attention is the utilization of the benefits earned through these agreements. Isn’t a major share of it pocketed for personal profits?
Many areas thrive on the funds accumulated through religious tourism. People are willing to spare large amounts of money for these special darshans. One would probably offend many religious devotees if one dares to raise the following question.
Will visiting a particular place of worship grant them better access to God?
If one tries to put forth an argument regarding the ultimate redundancy of these darshans, one would be inviting a significant amount of trouble.
The truth nevertheless is that the entire system earns a significant amount of money under the pretext of bestowing blessings. Not all of it is utilized for the development and prosperity of these places. Often smaller committees of selective people manipulate with the temple funds.
Like many other spaces this one too is infused with corruption and propagates by exploiting people on the basis of their faith. In India, it can be seen as one of the most widespread and deeply rooted networks of corruption.
Religion is so engrained within our mentality that it plays an influential role in shaping our decisions across different walks of life. Ironically, if it makes class barriers apparent, it also breaks through these barriers by having a magnetic effect and forcing people from all classes to act in similar ways. Although there is no doubt that people’s status shouldn’t be a determinant of their access to these places, the larger question that looms behind it is whether these darshans are worth one’s time, energy and investment in the first place.
The city of Delhi has seen it all; from sultanate rule, to dynasties, and to colonial rule. From monarchy to democracy, Delhi has gone through its phases. But, in order to know and explore the nuances of Delhi, you must read these beautiful books.
1. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
This book was written while Dalrymple was still flirting with his love for the Medieval India. The author writes, "Moreover the city- so I soon discovered- possessed a bottomless seam of stories: tales receding far beyond history, deep into the cavernous chambers of myth and legend," and just like this, Dalrymple takes you in a tour to discover Discover Delhi.
2. Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani Traveller by Raza Rumi
This book explores how the author explores his identity as a South Asian Muslim and how his city of Lahore is a mirror image of Delhi. Rumi, in this book, tries to co-relate the past with the present by comparing its festivals, streets, and markets.
3. Delirious Delhi: Inside India's Incredible Capital by DavePrager
This book is quite interesting. The story of this book revolves around the lives of Dave and Jenny who have recently moved to Delhi when their firm began to go down. The city of Delhi in this book is shown through their eyes as they try to make their way in the city that holds together a very large population.
4. The Heart has its Reasons by Krishna Sobti, Translated by Reema Anand, Meenakshi Swami
The original title of this book is "Dil - o - Danish". This book tells the reader about the streets of Old Delhi and almost transport the reader back in the past. This book is basically set in the 1920's, and tells the tale of a man's extramarital affair, his children out of wedlock, black magic, and Chandni Chowk's rich culture of sweets and the perils of being a widow. Interestingly, many have compared the author of this book to Jane Austen.
5. Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh
Who would talk about Delhi and not remember Khushwant Singh? This amazing book is just like a narrative of the author's fulfilled love affair with the city and with a eunuch. The narrator in this book is an aging man who is trying to discover the city. This book is truly a masterpiece, where it takes the readers on the history of Delhi glimpsing at what makes the city what it is– simply beautiful.
There are some of the Indian cities which are older than time. Therefore, we must know which cities are they, and what has been their history!
1. Varanasi (1200 BC–)
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities of India, and has been a center of religious and cultural activity since the Bronze Age. In fact, this city might have been in existence from a very long time, since it finds mention in the Rig Veda. It is believed that the city of Varanasi was thriving for more than 1600 years before the fall of the Roman Empire in Europe. This city is one of the holiest places for Hindus and Jains, and even Lord Buddha gave his very first sermon here in 528 BC. In Hinduism, it is believed that dying in Varanasi brings salvation, which is the reason why the city is always brimming with pilgrims.
2. Ujjain (700/600 BC–)
Ujjain was once considered as one of the most prominent cities in the Middle India. In fact, the name of this city is repeatedly mentioned in the literature of that period, i.e. in the works of stalwarts like Kālidāsa. This city has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, from the Mauryas to the Avantis, Nandas, and even the Guptas. This city, just like Varanasi, is also considered as one of the holiest cities in India, and hosts one of the officially recognized Kumbh melas, the Ujjain Simhastha Kumbh, in which people across the world take place.
3. Madurai (500 BC–)
Madurai been a major center of culture and trade for more than 2500 years. In fact, the name of this city has been mentioned in the writings of the great traveler, Megasthenes, and has been ruled by several empires from the Pandyas and the Cholas to the Karnata, and finally the British. Interestingly, ‘'Koodal,' was one of its ancient name which means 'a congregation of learned men'. There is no doubt that Madurai was an epicenter of scholars and religious teachers in the southern part of India.
4. Thanjavur (300 BC–)
Thanjavur was formerly known as Tanjore. This city is pretty famous for its Tanjore style of painting, which is a traditional style that is characterised by the use of gold foil, religious imagery, and simple compositions. This city is best known for being the home of the Great Living Chola Temples, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Till date, people across the world visit this place in order to experience its rich history and heritage.
By- Digital Hub
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