the temple most of us revere,the temple known for its famous car festival....
|Sad but true!
Today,I went to Puri,to have darshan of Chakka Dola (one of the names given to Lord Jagannath which refer to his circular(chakka-refering structure of the wheel) eyes(dola)) after a gap of one year. The moment our vehicle entered the city,I could see the changes. Traffic posts,cleaner roads,planned flow of traffic and planned busses to ply from the parking lot to the temple premises-just the way it was in Chinna Tirupati near Vijaywada.
Jolly well in a devotional swing as I was,I entered the Singha Dwara(the enterance to the temple) and was greeted by a whack from one of the pundits....." sacred whip",but the sacred whip is not that sacred. It is backed by a monetary motive which these Panda's eagerly wait for. If this is just a sample,walk with me to know more.
Now,I have started walking the first few steps of the "Baisa Pahacha"(22 steps), and there are Pandas trying to make a deal with me- "give me Rs.10 and I will take you to the altar for a closer darshan". Similarly many more swarmed in to strike a deal and unable to bear with them, I gave in to the one I found justified and followed him in (Puri was not a new place to me,but,given these eagles prying around-it was and will never be possible to have a peacefull darshan of the Lord). This was not the end. Previously,Bhog(offerings to God) were available in the open market in Anand Bazar( where you can savour dry food items as well as the Arna( rice prepared with pure ghee) at a reasonable price,served fresh and hot))but, today we have to buy them from special counters where nothing is available below Rs.50 or Rs.100. what the Panda gets here is the commision for the sale done. Good. there will be a process,beneficial to the Pandas,customer and the trust as well.
walking ahead,I entered the main temple and there starts the process of looting you every inch you try to budge closer to have a clear glimpse of the Lord Jagannath. Aarathi is free but not the Tirtham(divine water which is given as Prasadam to every devotee in any temple-small or big for free),when i asked for it,he said with a difference"dakshina nahin diya to nahin milega". ( make donation and take the Tirtham). Now when did this sacred water become a commodity exchanged for few coins or a paper note validated by the governor of RBI? Ridiculous! Isnt it?
And then, there are dallals hovering around asking questions"want a closer darshan? Pay Rs.10 and you will be allowed" and if you pay the guide less than Rs.10,you will hear something like these"aajkal Rs.5 main kya aata hai sir? Those Panda's near the Ratna Simhasan(the altar of the God) get to earn but what about us?" It seemed to me as if I were in a stock exchange and not in a temple- deals were every where,every nook and corner of the temple in every form!
I would rather advice anyone not to go,if at any cost you wish to go then have a pocket and purse full of cash or a bag full of arguments-these are the only two ways you can have a darshan!
Any how after dealings and settlements in Puri stock exchange,I had a darshan and moved towards Anand Bazar to savor the varities. "Bhai,yaade aaso....Arna garam!"(brother come here ..., rice is hot and fresh),echoes in the air from every direction you can make out. People from all the classes can be seen in this open restaurant of the God. Panda's of all the sizes can also be seen-rotund,thin,slim and stylish,ugly..... it is a unity in diversity here.....as every one there in the sales had only one motive-how to extract the maximum from the devotees!
I had,along with my friends,had a sumptous meal at around 4.30 in the evening and decided to take home a parcel of the fresh Arna and dalli(dal). Now be aware anyone,once you decide over a quantity and price-the contract is fixed! you cant cancel it and I faced a situation similar to that. I had run out of cash and was searching for my friends who seemed to have headed for the exit with out informing me..the momenyt i started searching them ,the shop owner had a doubt that I will not be paying for it and started a brawl.... it took me 10 mintues to make him understand that I had no intentions to cheat him. he said"why do you carry purse when you dont carry money?" Well,a question million dollars worth!!! they scan you every where and are the best eve teasers you can find any where..... be care ful when you try for a darshan....
there still is a place of respect for the place but to be frank,the commercialisation and greed exhibited by the Pandits made me change my mind- never ever to come to this place.
Tourist friends - its but a request,please donot pay them the exact amount whatever they ask for. God never has set the rule of "pay for my Darshan". It is a shame that in the name of God,these people make a living by unfair and unjust means. Discourage them by avoiding payments at every stage. then only can the temple's sanctity be preserved.