This is one temple that does not worship gods and goddesses. The only difference is that the newspaper is conferred a divine status in Raipur and worshipped daily.
The temple, built in 1993, known as Gandhi Mandir, is looked after by the tribal community of the Halba sect of the Gond tribe in Dhamtari district of Chhattisgarh. And the locals have strong reasons for expressing their faith in the print media.
Gandhi Mandir priest Balaram Markam said: “The newspapers are eye-openers, create awareness, remain watchful of the evils and crimes in society, inculcate human values and prevent people from committing wrongs.”
The worshippers meditate and contemplate in the temple premises and even seek fulfilment of various wishes. According to their beliefs, the media has the power to serve the community, society, nation and environment in an impartial way. Various slogans and hymns are depicted at the entrance to the temple.
The chants and hymns are dedicated to the nation, Mahatma Gandhi and the people who are dubbed the ‘Janata Gandhi’ at the temple doorway.
The newspapers in this temple are regarded just like any other religious epic or book. “All newspapers are revered here,” said Markam, adding that the choice of the language or region is immaterial. A local resident Sandeep Deewan told the Hindustan Times that despite criticism faced by the media about its credibility, people here stand by their trustworthiness.
A regular visitor to Gandhi Mandir, Dheer Mandawi, said the best part here is that there is no discrimination among devotees.