| Pilgrims on their way to Deoghar. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Senior administrative officials of Bhagalpur and Deoghar held a high-level meeting here on Sunday on rectifications to enhance facilities for kanwariyas (saffron-clad pilgrims) and on crowd control during the month-long Shravani Mela.
The fair starts on July 13 and ends on August 25.
But the meeting failed to solve the problems of dak bams (pilgrims who run 105km from Sultanganj to Deoghar in 24 hours) during the mela.
In the meeting, Bhagalpur district magistrate B. Kartikey and Deoghar development commissioner (DC) Amit Kumar requested that the excess flow of kanwariyas would make it impossible for the Deoghar administration to provide special arrangement for dak bams on Sunday and Monday during the mela.
According to tradition, the dak bams prefer to offer Ganga jal (water) to Lord Baidyanath on Mondays in the month of Shravan. They fetch the holy Ganga water from Sultanganj on Sunday afternoon and target to complete the rituals at Deoghar on Monday by running 105km barefoot within 24 hours. The Deoghar DC said except Krishna bam (the spiritual lady from Muzaffarpur who has been running as a dak bam every Monday during Shravan for the past 35 years), no pilgrim would be allowed to enter inside the sanctum sanctorum of Baidyanath temple on Sunday and Monday during the mela.
“This time, we have introduced a special arghya in which devotees could offer Ganga jal on the Dayadash jyotirlingam of Lord Baidyanath with the help of a special structure of which one end is outside the sanctum sanctorum, while the other is on the jyotirlingam inside the temple,” said DC Amit Kumar.
He added that the surge in flow of pilgrims in the temple over the years has triggered a major crowd control crisis for the Deoghar administration. The DC said: “On the lines of the Tirupati temple in Telangana, this time, special passes would be provided to pilgrims after completing registration formalities. The passes would help them worship freely and smoothly. The new system would effectively control the huge rush of pilgrims.”
“Earlier, dak bams had the privilege of entering directly inside the sanctum sanctorum. The facility was provided to them because of their tedious task and second, after running the long distance at a stretch, they could not wait in queues like ordinary pilgrims,” said Binay Mishra, a devotee from Tarapur.