An unending queue of pilgrims near Baidyanath Dham on Monday. Picture by Arun Keshri
Deoghar, Aug. 5: Devotees’ plight seems to have no end at the Lord Baidyanath temple, with the administration failing to learn any lesson from the last Monday’s chaos.
The second Somvari turned out to be even worse for pilgrims, thanks to the administration’s apathy, coupled with adverse weather condition.
Around 70 thousand pilgrims offered puja amidst large-scale mismanagement till the evening and the number was expected to reach 1.25 lakh by late night.
People started arriving in the temple town since the small hours today, making serpentine queues that extended up to Nandan Pahar, around 8km from the temple.
As the day progressed, devotees’ condition turned worse from bad.
As if administrative mismanagement and lack of amenities were not enough that the sun god, too, showed up fiercely to make life hell. People had to wait under the scorching sun for 8-10 hours for their turn to enter the sanctum sanctorum.
Those, who opted for Shighra Darshanam facility — a separate line, could not skip the horror, either. Even after paying Rs 500 for the “special treatment”, most of them had to wait for five-six hours in the line.
This so-called VIP line, too, was overburdened because dak kanwarias — those who walk the entire 100km stretch between Sultanganj and Deoghar in 24 hours without any break — were lined up in the same queue.
“The temple management, it seems, are making full use of the Shravani Mela to generate funds by exploiting pilgrims,” said a disgruntled Rakesh Gupta of Allahabad. He added that it took him eight hours to cover 3km in the queue.
With the timeslot system failing to bring about desired changes due to lack of planning and expertise, the administration had to allow devotees to queue up.
It also failed to ensure basic amenities, like overhead sheds and drinking water, for the pilgrims.
“We had come to know through media reports that this time, pilgrims were going to have extraordinary facilities at Baidyanath Dham. But, the situation is worse than previous years,” said Chandan Mukhiya of Khagariya, Bihar.
Some volunteers and social organisations, however, came to the rescue of pilgrims. They provided drinking water, sherbet and poured water on devotees’ feet.
According to former general secretary of the Panda Dharma Rakshini Sabha — the outfit of local priests, the administrative highhandedness in the temple affairs was proving costly.
“Only one out of the 12 members in the Baidyanath Dham temple management board belongs to Deoghar or for that matter to local priests’ community,” Durlabh Mishra told The Telegraph.
Mishra, who is also the national secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Purohit Maha Sabha, added most of the board members were indifference towards the plight of pilgrims.