Radha Devi, 30, a homemaker from Delhi, wishes to have a male child and she is not alone.
Hundreds of married women from across the country gather at the Kamleshwar Mahadev temple for the annual Baikunth Chaturdashi fair, to pray for a male child.
Women, especially from states in north India, stand overnight, a earthen lit lamp in their hands with a belief that their wish will be fulfilled.
This year, more than 230 women, who desire to have a male child registered with the temple to offer the “khara diya” to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva for a child.
“Many women who fail to conceive or give birth to a male child come and bow at the doors of Shiva for his blessings,” says Bipin Chandra Maithani, chairman of Municipal Board, who inaugurated the fair on Tuesday.
The penchant for a male child is not new in the country. According to the 2011 Census, Haryana has the lowest female ratio of 861 women per 1000 males while Kerala the highest female sex ratio of 1058 per 1000 males. In Uttarakhand it is 963 women per 1000 males.
On Tuesday night, more than 161 women stood all with lamps in their hands and prayed for Lord Shiva’s blessings. The nightlong special prayers concluded on Wednesday morning.
“I was blessed with a son in 2000 after I offered my thanks at the temple,” says Divya Doomra, a mother of three — two daughters and a son — of Bikaner, Rajasthan.
Sandhya Joshi from Tehri wants her first child to be a son. She stood nightlong inside the temple with her husband. Anil and Poonam Kothiyal from Rajasthan also did the same.
Childless women and those who desire to have a male child, deck themselves in their finery and stand the whole night inside the temple with offerings to the god and a lighted earthen lamp in their hands.
The lamp has to be kept lighted throughout the night. At four in the morning, they take a holy dip in the nearby Alaknanda River. The head priest then presents them a coconut as a blessing.
Besides, Kamleshwar Mahadev temple, the Anusuya Devi temple in Chamoli district and Thaneshwar Mahadev temple in Kaljikhal block of Pauri district are also famous for such miracles of faith where the childless come from all over the country.
Shisupal and Sarla Rawat, a couple from Uttarakhand, who presently stay in Delhi and want a boy for the stigma attached to a girl child.
“We want a boy to ensure the continuity of the clan,” says the couple, who participated in the nightlong prayer.