The recent natural tragedy that has struck many parts of Uttrakhand needs to be sympathised with.The thousands of trapped persons and tourists need to be safely evacuated. Man is totally incapable of facing natures wrath. There is no protection against cloudbursts even if they can be predicted. The energy released by it is simply too gigantic to be able to be contained. Destruction of human lives and property is unavoidable. However at a reasonable distance downstream it should be possible to contain and channelise the sudden surge of the immense quantities of water and minimise damage to life and property. Then why do we  fail in doing so?

I have had the opportunity of visiting a few foreign countries. I have visited their religious places and have been struck by the contrast when compared with our holy places. First of all one is deeply impressed by the very high level of cleanliness both outside and  inside the holy place, be it a temple, mosque or a church. In fact many a time there is good landscaping around the structures. Inside there is a divine silence which makes the visit memorable. There is no harassment from priests and other administrators for money and there is almost complete absence of beggars outside. There is usually no pressure of being evicted from the premises and one can stay inside  fir as long one wants within the allowed visiting hours. Everyone respects  the presence of others and there is no pushing around amongst the devotees / visitors. It makes the visit really a memorable one.

By contrast in Indian holy places are surrounded by unkempt and dirt and filth. The approach roads are most of the time in broken conditions even of the most holy of the holiest shrines. There are a large number of beggars strategically positioned on both sides of the road and they exploit gainfully their misery from the devotees.There are also on both sides  multitude of shops selling materials for use inside the holy place. However they are after your shoes and chappals which they are going to safe keep free,because that is a way of inducing you to buy from their shop.  Most of the time it is a battle to get into the shrines even if there is a line. Once one is able to get in the priests and other temple officials will start pestering you for money. In fact many a time they will come in way between you and the god's idols so that your darshana can be done only when you have parted with money to them. It makes the whole visit experience very low in taste. There is lot of pushing inside and one has to be constantly on the move. The time available for actual darshan is less than one minute because of the rush of devotees.There are generally no good arrangements available for hygienic food and drinking water. It seems that the holy places exist only for enriching the temple priests and administrators and in turn there is no pressure either on them or the civic authorities to provide excellent facilities to the pilgrims and visitors.

Why is this state of affairs tolerated by the people of this country? Is it because one goes to these holy places with a demand in mind? Therefore  more the difficulties one faces the more will be the reward. Also one does not go to the holy places as a tourist to enjoy the place, but only to have a fleeting darshana and place one's demand in front of the deity. Therefore one is immune to the surroundings and the dirt and squalor around. Also one is conditioned to the fact that they will be fleeced out of money to the maximum extent possible in these places. All these are seen as hazards to be faced when one wants to come in front of the gods idols in these holy places.

These places are visited by all sections of the society, from the powerful politicians to the poorest of the poor. Yet no one raises one's voice against the poor state of affairs prevailing in these places. No one wants to be seen on the wrong side of religion. Thus we go on tolerating these sad state of affairs at our holy places.

It is therefore to be debated as to will such group of persons challenge the flouting of norms by politicians, administrators, builders and others in and around our very holy places most of which are situated in higher reaches of mountains. The greed of money in our society is so high and powerful these days that there is a strange type of tolerant indifference that has crept into most of us. We see rules being broken all around us and yet do not protest. The few who do, do not get adequate support to make a difference. Swami Nityananda died after nearly 100 days of fasting for preservation of Ganga yet no politician or TV channels covered him to make an impact.

One would like to know who approved the plans of buildings which were permitted to be built almost within the banks of the flowing rivers. They fell like a pack of cards when the river was in spate. It is widely reported that nearly 300 dams are under construction and planning wish are obstructing the free flow of the river waters. Also the haphazard over mining of sand and stones  from the river beds have made the river paths unruly. The construction of large number of multi storey hotels and other buildings on low strength soil prone to erosion is also responsible for the large property loss and perhaps lives also.

Everyone in the country especially in the government and builders want to make money in tons and tons. Are they going to eat money? Are they going to sleep on it? Are they going to wear it? Why is there such mad race to make money? Making money is not wrong. But resorting to unfair means, where there is no concern for human lives and environment, is not justified.Exemplary punishment must be given to concerned persons to set an example.

Therefore when people do not insist that there holy places should be neat and clean and these should not be used as money minting premises how can they be sensitive to flouting of rules and regulations even if it is going to result in human lives being lost. The high level of tolerance to wrong doing that is prevalent in our society has made us very indifferent persons individually. The result is that "smart' persons take advantage of it and do only one thing which comes naturally to them, that is make piles of money illegally.

When will we become alert and concerned citizens and avoid the damage to human lives and the environment.


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Comments (1)

  1. Kalyani Nandurkar

Religion is now reduced to a host of rituals and unnecessary accessories that go with it which turned religious centres into commercial centres. That coupled with mass hysteria that religion mainly is the cause for so many tragedy in our country...

Religion is now reduced to a host of rituals and unnecessary accessories that go with it which turned religious centres into commercial centres. That coupled with mass hysteria that religion mainly is the cause for so many tragedy in our country for which no proactiveness is ever taken! Good article!

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