An astrologer and social activist has turned the religious practice of offering water and milk in temples into a unique way of water conservation. Pandit Purushotam Gaur, known as Guruji, has developed water harvesting infrastructure in more than 300 temples in Rajasthan over the past 13 years.
Gaur is harvesting the millions of gallons of water offered by devotees in Hindu temples that earlier used to literally go down the drain.
Several honours, including the Maharana Mewar Award, have been conferred on Guar for his services to astrology and social activism,.
Gaur said that he had started his Jalabhishek campaign in 2000.
"I used to notice that the water offered by devotees in temples is completely wasted as it goes into the drain. So, an idea to use it in recharging the increasingly depleting groundwater level struck me," the 41-year old astrologer told IANS.
He started channelling water from temples (especially Shiva temples) through several filter chambers before it drained into the ground and recharged the ground water level. As part of the project, several tanks and bore wells were constructed in each of the temple with the help of the people, Gaur added.
"At some temples it required digging 30-foot deep pits that were strategically placed so that the water from the idols was routed into them. Separate five-foot deep pits for milk offerings are also dug up in temples," Gaur said.
"I was delighted when several scientists and groundwater experts joined forces with me and came up with an institution called 'Shiksha Samiti'. The institution has calculated that the city, with more than 3,000 temples, daily has at least 45 million litres of water poured on the deity of Lord Shiva and other deities during the Hindu holy month of Shravan (July-August)," Guar explained.
He said that apart from wastage, the water and milk offered by devotees also impacted the environment.
"Formerly water and milk used to flow out unchecked into open areas near temples, creating unhygienic putrid and stagnant puddles. The areas around temples also became the breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies," said Guar.
He said that it was not easy in the beginning to convince priests of the temples to join the campaign.
"My efforts were initially suspected by some priests as a means of gaining popularity and demanding a right to worship at their temples. Even when my followers began donating money for the cause, most priests were reluctant to adopt the project although the cost is only Rs.2,500 for each well," said Guar.
Now about 300 temples have been covered by the campaign.
Buoyed over the success, Gaur said: "This needs to be done all over the country, not just in Jaipur."
"After covering almost all big temples in the city with this water harvesting campaign, I am now going to extend this project to other parts of the country," Gaur said.