A defunct streetlight at the entrance of Minakshi Gali, which is among the many dark approach roads to Pahari Mandir (above) in Ranchi, on Tuesday. (Hardeep Singh)
Perhaps faith helped them keep the forces of darkness at bay.
More than 10,000 Somvari devotees were greeted by pitch-black, rain-soaked and slippery streets on their way to the highly revered Pahari Mandir on Ranchi’s Ratu Road on the first Monday of the holy month of Shravan.
RMC mayor Asha Lakra and her deputy Sanjeev Vijayvargiya had visited the sacred precincts both on Sunday and Monday to ensure cleanliness ahead of prayers, but what they failed to notice is that the multiple approach roads to the temple were either devoid of functional streetlights or very poorly lit.
Adequate lighting is necessary, especially during Shravan, because the faithful queue up at Pahari Mandir as early as 4am, more than an hour before sunrise, to worship the Shivalingam.
Sharad Kumar, a resident of Lalpur, was among the many who were inconvenienced on Monday.
“We were not sure about availability of parking space during the first Somvari and hence, decided to walk to the temple. My friends and I started from home around 3.30am and reached Ratu Road within 40 minutes. We found the first lane to the temple (Kamala Kant Road or Pahari Mandir Road) dark and took the next one (Minakshi Gali), but to our surprise there were no streetlights glowing there too. It was difficult walking because the roads were slippery after rain,” the 40-year-old said.
New Police Line resident Pratibha Devi raised similar concerns. “Not just the approach roads to the temple, even the one beside Radio Station Colony (Akashvani) is not well-lit. At least half a kilometre of this stretch is absolutely dark. I was not just afraid of being chased by stray dogs, but scared of snakes too because it is monsoon,” the devotee said.
Om Prakash, the councillor of ward No. 30 that exercises jurisdiction over the temple area, claimed there were LED lights on Pahari Mandir Road.
“If the lights did not glow yesterday (Monday), I will immediately take up the matter with RMC officials. Absence of streetlights near Rani Sati Mandir on Minakshi Gali has also been brought to my notice. I will get all the streetlights replaced or repaired. Whatever is required to be done will be done today (Tuesday),” he pledged.
About the Akashvani colony, he said: “Though the area falls under ward No. 32, the need for streetlights is more important than jurisdiction issues. So, I will recommend the matter to the RMC.”
The councillor also promised that he would personally inspect Bano Manjil Lane, another approach road to Pahari Mandir from Harmu Bypass, on Tuesday evening. “Now that absence of streetlight has come to my notice, I will check all other civic issues including cleanliness of the area,” he added.
Nagendra Dubey, section in-charge (lights) at RMC, said that the glitches would be rectified within 24 hours. “I am thankful that the problem has been brought to my notice. The streetlights will be checked today and all will glow by tomorrow (Wednesday),” he added.