Non-teaching employees perform the mahamrityunjaya jap on ISM campus on Friday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Sceptics may differ but the non-teaching staff of ISM-Dhanbad feel that “death-conquering” incantation is the only way out of the sense of gloom on campus following the demise of two students this week.
Sounds of conch mingled with the mahamritunjaya jap (chanting of a spiritual verse), as the priests began a three-day puja at 6.30am on Friday at the Shiva temple on campus to ward off evil forces from the institute.
“We decided last evening to conduct the jap and arranged necessary goods for the puja in consultation with the two priests of the temple, Niranjan Pandey and Gautam Pandey,” said Satya Narayan Das, the president of Bhartiya Khani Vidyapith Karmachari Sangh.
He said 11,000 japs would be performed during the puja that will conclude on Sunday evening with a havan (a fire ritual), adding the number of japs might go up depending on the time available.
ISM director Durga Charan Panigrahi, registrar Colonel (retd) M.K. Singh and office-bearers of the non-teaching staff association attended the puja.
The director and the registrar took the sankalp (pledge) together so that at least one of them can attend the havan in accordance with scriptural rules. Panigrahi was due to leave for Calcutta on Friday.
“We did not invite students to the puja today, as we don’t want to interrupt classes, but we expect a large number to participate in the havan since it is on Sunday,” said Das.
He explained that “when you are fed up with failure of all possible steps, you turn to god to ensure peace on campus”.
The mood at ISM has been grim this week.
Nishant Singh, a petroleum engineering student, was killed in a bike accident on Sunday. Three days later, another student of the department, Jetti Kunal, committed suicide at a hostel.
Tension between BTech and MTech students also flared up on Wednesday, with alert authorities preventing a major brawl.
Das recalled that they had organised a havan at the Durga mandap on campus 12 years ago to dissipate tension between students, adding that “things improved after the ritual”.
Registrar Colonel (retd) M.K. Singh argued there was nothing wrong if the staff organised a puja in good faith.
“We are also planning to take strict steps to ensure order and mulling a proposal to provide various facilities to stop students from venturing out often,” said Singh, adding that a shopping complex on the premises was in the pipeline.
The management is planning to maintain details of presence of students in the hostels. Security guards have also been told to keep an eye on students and record the time of arrival and departure of every student to step out of ISM for any work.