DEVOTEES AT the famed Mahakaleshwar Temple may henceforth be deprived of performing camphor ‘arti’ and the lengthy ‘panchamrat puja’ if the Vidvat Parishad approves proposals in this regard.
The temple has been witnessing sharp rise in the number of visitors in the past few years. Though development and expansion works undertaken in the temple have facilitated the rising number to a certain extent, things are still difficult inside the sanctum sanctorum.
With the gate being just three feet wide and the total area being hardly 50 square feet, difficulties are being faced in tackling crowd pressure. Moreover, pilgrims try to remain inside the sanctum sanctorum for a longer time, thus inconveniencing others.
Repeated ‘artis’ by devotees are also said to be affecting the idols and the ceiling where Rudra Yantra is engraved. The Temple Administrative Committee has now proposed a ban on camphor ‘artis’ and instead suggested ‘jal arti’.
Also, many pilgrims offer ‘panchamrat pujan’ under which articles including milk, curd, honey, sugar and water are applied on the idol. Reports have said that extensive quantity of these articles damages the stone idol. The committee wants to stipulate the quantity of puja material besides use of grinded sugar in place of the normal one.
The committee also proposes to charge fees from devotees to attend the ‘bhasma arti’ booking for which could be done through communication means.
District Collector and Committee head Neeraj Mandloi said that the proposals would prove beneficial for devotees and preservation of ancient heritage. Under the Temple Act, proposals relating to puja and other rituals have to be cleared by the Vidvat Parishad, which consists of scholars having knowledge of religious matters. The meeting of Vidvat Parishad is scheduled for December 11.
However, the proposals have raised eyebrows of some Parishad members. Noted astrologist Pandit Anand Shankar sees the move as playing with the pujan process.
He told the Hindustan Times that camphor ‘arti’ was an essential part of the puja and the administration should adopt other means to clear the smoke created as a result.
Vyas also pointed out that the administration was not following the announced schedule of holding Vidvat Parishad meeting once in three months. No meeting had been held in the past two years.