When you visit a temple you look for peace, a solitary moment with God and a trip to renew the feeling of hope and gratitude.Cities like Gurgaon hardly offer you any scope of solitude as temples are swarming with devotees chanting mantras in fast forward motion with their eyes fixated on the idols while the hands and legs move furiously to move ahead of the line.
The crowds-we have all come to terms with and learnt to coexist but there is one aspect of temples, some not all, that I just cannot seem to ignore and feel furious about is the sight of beggers outside the temple complex. I want to be very specific and write about a temple in my neighborhood, the temple a little ahead of DT Mega Mall Gurgaon Phase 1. Its a tiny temple on an intersection. Like many temples it sits right under a Peepal tree but aside from the tree there is not much around to make for a peaceful experience. There is traffic smoke and noise from the busy intersection and construction mud piles around. The most appalling feature of this temple are the “needy” people, women and kids of all ages, who take over the entire entry area. As soon as you reach the temple stairs you are greeted with many hands begging for food and money and the hands dont follow you till you roll up your car windows and leave the temple. You take home prashad and hand marks all over your glass windows.
I realize India’s population imbalance and that we cant escape the majority living below the poverty line. And I do not blame those who sit and beg outside the temple because its easy access to food and money for their families. What I do question is why cant a place as righteous as a temple do something about this situation so it is respectful for all? I have been visiting this temple for about 2 years and most of the needy sitting outside have been the same people so the population of that segment hasnt grown. I tried to be spiritual and meditative but every single time the sight of children and women begging and then fighting over their earnings took away every bit of spirituality in me. . One day I took it upon myself to talk to the priest who sits in the air conditioned quarter, I asked him why he wont let do something about these people and create a more peaceful environment for all. It was appaling when he answered “Its just a few people like you who object but a large population actually wants these people here so they can make easy donation in Gods name”. This reply has left me furious and disgusted!
I have decided to boycott this temple, yes I might be hurting God’s sentiments in doing so but I cant help fake spirituality when all I see around is greed, hunger, poverty, a priest who is ok with this situation and a bunch of rich people who feel elevated donating food and money in this manner. For a small temple with educated followers and management running the institution, measures as effective as described below can be taken:
- Keep a Donation Box: Ask all mandir visitors to submit their food donations in a donation box and create a daily timetable to distribute the food in a orderly manner. As long as your donation is going to the right people doesnt it make sense that those who need it get it in a respectable manner without begging, snatching and quarrels?
- No Kids: Last time I was visited the temple I took out my spy cam and shot a few vidoes where kids who were begging told me that most went to schools and that their fathers were employed. I realize that free food will only help their families but why make educated kids beg in such a manner? The authorities should only help kids by donating a portion of their earnings to further enhance education, distribute books or even call upon volunteers to take extra classes. The priest who sits and blesses only those who enter his air conditioned cabin should make time to enlighten these children with values so they can aspire to be better than their parents. Again, rich people opportunity for you to make a real difference and be blessed!
- Employment: For those who are not employed, why cant the temple create some employment opportunities? If not for the temple they can reach out to the devotees with a list of people and their skill set and put up a list so they can be employed. Shout out to rich people again, employing these people can bring a lifelong upliftment in their lives not just momentary hunger satiation by eating a pack of biscuits. And we all know true blessings and good wishes from humans is what really connects you to God.
This long blog, is from a frustrated devotee of God who wants to make a difference but gets nothing but complacent answers from those who are in the position to do so or guide me. Please, if you know of this temple and your thoughts echo mine please do let the priest know that its not just a few who would want God’s place to be clean, righteous and progressive. And if I were God residing in those decorated idols, I for sure would not be at peace looking at the plight of those who are made to beg, snatch and live in dirt. I as God would never want to bless those who are in a situation to spread kindness and create equality but wont! Yes, the feeling of giving does set in on the sight of poverty but why does it have to be accompanied with pity and disgust. Changing the world might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but creating ripples of change around you would be enough for you feel proud, positive and empowered.