Pilgrims wait at Nandan Pahar for their turn to enter the Deoghar temple on Monday. Picture by Arun Keshri
Deoghar, July 16: Chaos reigned in Deoghar today — the second Somvari of the holy month of Shravan — as close to two lakh pilgrims made their way to the Baidyanath Dham temple, braving long hours in serpentine queues.
The number of pilgrims today was more in comparison to last Monday because a large contingent of devotees arrived from Bengal and the north-eastern states.
The arrangements made by the district and temple administrations to deal with the crowds appeared woefully inadequate as pilgrims vented their ire at different places like BEd College, Tiwari Chowk and Nandan Pahar.
Shouts of “Jharkhand sarkar murdabad” and “Jharkhand sarkar hai hai” rent the air as kanwariyas remained stranded for hours in queues that tail-backed almost 7km in places.
“I joined the queue at Nandan Pahar at 4pm yesterday. I don’t know when I will reach the temple that is still 4km away,” said Chanchal Pandey of Gorakhpur as he waited with thousands of others at Tiwari Chowk around 1.30pm.
The kanwariyas complained that there was no drinking water facility along the route and also no cover from the rain that had been falling intermittently since last night.
A stampede-like situation was witnessed at Nandan Pahar, BEd College and Barmasia as pilgrims pushed each other while crossing roads to take their place in front of queues.
Deputy commissioner Rahul Purwar could be seen trying to control the crowd at the temple while superintendent of police Subodh Prasad patrolled the routes taken by the kanwariyas.
Such was the rush that many pilgrims opted out of entering the temple premises even after waiting for hours in the queue.
Even after covering 100km on foot carrying Ganga jal from Sultanganj, many devotees chose to pour the water outside the main Shiva temple rather than try and get to the sanctum sanctorum.
Some pilgrims also poured water near the Parvati temple, considered a shakti pitha.
“I did not dare join the rush to enter the Shiva temple and decided to offer puja to only Parvati,” said Usha Kumari of Shewatar Gaya. She, however, was anxiously looking for her husband Mukesh Raja who had joined the men’s queue last evening and had apparently not reached the temple.
As was the case last Monday, dak kanwariyas, about 10,000 of them, were not provided any special privilege for easy access to the temple.
At the Basukinath Temple in Dumka, about 50,000 pilgrims offered puja till afternoon. The figure was expected to touch 1 lakh by late night.