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Deity rides Dhoni popularity wave
- Deori temple seeing daily footfall of 2000 since India’s World Cup victory
(From top) Akhileshwar Panda and other priests at Deori Mandir in Tamar; a long queue of devotees on Tuesday. Pictures by Prashant Mitra

Deori (Tamar), April 5: If the Cup has buoyed a nation of 1.2 billion, a certain goddess too is basking in the worldly glory of Indian cricket’s new demigod M.S. Dhoni.

Mata Deori, an avatar of goddess Kali and the resident deity of Tamar’s Deori Mandir, is suddenly being swamped by the faithful from across the state. The temple, which till last week saw 200-300 visitors a day, is now the favourite daily pilgrimage of more than 2,000 people, courtesy Captain Courageous’ unwavering faith in the deity.

According to priest Manoj Panda, the number of devotees to the temple — ensconced 60km from the capital on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur national highway — has been swelling ever since Team India’s victory last Saturday. “From Sunday morning, a day after Dhoni’s win, the footfall multiplied several times. More than 2,000 people are trooping in daily from several parts of the state. This is unusual, but very welcome,” he said.

Tuesday too saw a serpentine queue of devotees in front of the temple.

“I have come to seek blessings for my younger brother, Prem, who is appearing for his matriculation examination, which begins today. I will also pray for the happiness of my family,” said Krishna Kumar, a resident of Bundu, before offering his puja.

Deepak Dutta of Jamshedpur also paid his maiden visit to Deori Mandir this morning. “My neighbours told me that the deity hears the prayers of all her devotees, Dhoni being one of her ardent ones. So, I have come to seek her blessings,” the Tata Motors employee said.

Another faithful, Suraj Singh Munda, needed urgent darshan. “I have some problems at home. I want Goddess Kali to give me strength and wisdom to resolve them,” he said, but declined to elaborate further.

Since his early days on the crease and after his Ranji debut in 1998-99, Dhoni has been a regular visitor to the Deori Mandir with friends or family members in tow. Before and after every match, he seeks the mata’s blessings and the World Cup was no exception. Though the temple authorities are yet to receive word from the Team India skipper on his next visit, they firmly believe he will come soon.

“I will offer a special puja for Dhoni when he comes,” Manoj Panda said, adding that he had sought blessings for the captain before the World Cup final.

No one could say for certain when the temple was built, not even priests whose seven generations have been serving the goddess.

“According to a legend, an erstwhile king of Tamar saw a dream. The goddess told him that there was a temple in Deori, where she must be worshipped. Villagers, as directed by the king, cleared a forested patch to find a small temple with a stone statue of Kali. Ever since, the deity is worshipped here,” said Akhileshwar Panda, senior priest and Manoj Panda’s uncle. Akhileshwar could not recall when exactly the dream was dreamt and who the king was. “Probably, it was sometime in the 18th Century and people fondly called him Burha Baba,” he said.

Prayers continued at the small temple till the Sri Sri Durga Puja Samiti of Deori began construction of a bigger mandir with donations some 15 years ago. The temple is still under construction since donations are normally paltry.

On whether the captain would make an offering for the temple’s revamp this time, the senior priest said: “We do not ask. But if he wishes to, we will be happy to accept his donation.”

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