Rekha Jain hands a white piece of paper and a red ink pen to the man sitting on the floor in front of the idol of Lord Hanuman. He scribbles a few sentences on the paper and gives it back to Jain who holds it for a while in front of the face of the idol and then puts it in a transparent pyramid-shaped container on the floor, which is already filled with such white slips. The man, a jeweller, has come to make a wish in writing at the temple, which is famous in the city as a Chamatkarik Sri Hanumanji ka Mandir (the “miraculous temple of Hanuman ji”) where all your wishes given in writing are supposed to be granted. The man says a small prayer as directed by Jain and leaves.
Jain is the head priestess of the temple — the only female priest of a Hanuman temple in the Capital. Interestingly, the temple, located in Neb Sarai on IGNOU Road in south Delhi, gets about 400 what Jain calls “applications” to Hanuman per month. Interestingly, 50% of them are from people seeking a visa to travel abroad, earning the temple the sobriquet of the Visa Temple.
“While the temple gets a majority of applications from visa seekers, the deity here has the power to grant all kinds of wishes,” Jain says.
She asks the visitors to the temple to give their applications in writing as, she says, it shows the seriousness on their part and a desire expressed in writing forever remains in one’s subconscious, which is quite necessary for its fulfillment. “A lot of people ask me whether they should write their wishes in English or Hindi. I reply that Hanuman can understand all languages. I make people write with red ink as the colour symbolises positive energy. When the visitors are gone, I read out every application to Hanuman and offer prayers so that the wishes are granted at the earliest,” Jain adds.
Jain, 47, was born and brought up in the Walled City. She is trained in Reiki, Vastu, astrology and crystal gazing, and speaks English fluently. And instead of saffron robes, she likes to wear saris and salwar suits. “I do not wear saffron clothes because I am married and have a family to look after. I am as devoted to my family as to the temple,” says Jain, her eyes heavy with kohl and a big red bindi adorning her forehead.
The first-floor air-conditioned temple complex boasts of a reception, a meditation room for visitors and Jain's own large room with a huge teak table and upholstered sofas. Framed pictures of gods and goddesses adorn the walls. Her two cell phones keep buzzing as we speak to her in her office. She maintains a written record of the wishes made and the wishes granted at the temple she established in 2007. “A lot of the people who come here keep me updated on whether their wishes have been fulfilled over the phone. As the temple's reputation has spread far and wide, people who cannot come to the temple themselves send their written wishes by post from all across the country and abroad. I burn all the applications after the wishes are fulfilled, pour the ashes into water and offer it to trees,” says Jain.
The temple, she says, is popular not just with Hindus, but also Muslims and Christians. It has several regular visitors who come and write applications every time they have problems in life. “Recently, we had a Muslim girl who was in love with a Hindu boy and wished to marry him. Soon, the families of both the boy and the girl agreed without any fuss. A lot of people come to the temple with wishes on relationship issues,” says Jain, who lives in Geentanjali Enclave in south Delhi.
At times, she also writes wishes on behalf of her own family members, which includes her businessman husband and son and two daughters who are married.
One of the “applications” made to Hanuman at the temple reads: “Hey prabhu. Mujhe USA ka study visa dila de jiye (God please help me get a study visa to the USA).” Then, another is from a wife wishing that her husband should love her all her life. And, there was one from a person wanting a relative to be released from jail.
The temple register has many comments expressing gratefulness. Jain claims that almost 70% wishes are fulfilled. And why are the remaining wishes not fulfilled? “It’s because of the people's karma and negative thinking. You get what you give to the universe. I advise such people to attend my meditation and counselling sessions at the temple aimed at inculcating positive thinking, which is what sets me apart from other temple priests,” says Jain who is referred to as Guru Ma by the temple visitors.