| Pilgrims at Someshwarnath Temple in Areraj, East Champaran on Monday. Picture by RN Sinha |
Pilgrims who thronged the famous Someshwarnath Temple in Areraj on Monday suffered because of the lack of preparation of the East Champaran district administration to manage crowds or provide them with adequate facilities.
Like the temple of Lord Baidyanath in Deoghar, Jharkhand, to which thousands of pilgrims rush during the month of Shravan, the shine dedicated to Lord Shiv in the town, 26km west of Motihari and around 140km northwest of Patna also attracts a large crowd from different districts of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal as well as.
Like every year, pilgrims encountered utter pandemonium on the temple premises on Monday — the last one this Shravan. A number of them were unable to enter the sanctum or offer prayers.
Some like Pakariya village resident Kishori Devi and Kesariya resident Police Sahni fainted because of the scurry among the pilgrims and had to be rushed to a nearby medical centre.
But the healthcare facilities for the pilgrims also leave much to be desired, claimed social activist Anil Tewari.
He said: “The arrangements made by the administration for Shravani Mela is inadequate. There is no shelter or sanitation arrangement for the pilgrims. A health team is deputed near the temple only on Mondays but it not equipped properly. The main road leading form Areraj Chowk to the temple premises is in a deplorable state.”
The district administration accepted that the preparations were not sufficient to manage the crowd of pilgrims.
Areraj deputy superintendent of police Alok Kumar and sub-divisional magistrate Vijay Pandey are camping on the temple premises. They admitted that the administration was having a tough time controlling the crowds.
“No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere but the number of pilgrims visiting the temple today (Monday) may touch 2 lakh by the evening. Naturally, it is a tough job,” said Alok.
District magistrate Abhijit Sinha inaugurated the Shravani Mela on July 3. He promised proper arrangement for lighting, drinking water, sanitation, shelter and healthcare for the pilgrims and had directed Pandey to ensure that everything was properly organised.
A lot, however, has been left incomplete. Pilgrims claim that while they have to struggle to offer puja, those who have to stay the night in Areraj are worse off.
“Coming to the temple is alright. But those who have to stay the night and cannot return home after offering puja face a lot of trouble as there are no proper arrangements,” said Mangani Yadav, a resident of Basmanpur village under Motihari block, who has been visiting the temple for the past few years.