When thousands of devotees thronged temples in the city on the morning of Mahashivratri, they did not expect to be accosted by volunteers raising a very pertinent question -- why waste good milk on rituals when you can give it to the poor?
As many as 80 members of the Rotaract Club of Mumbai-Mulund South stood outside shrines across Mulund, Dombivli and Chembur on Monday, telling everybody who would listen that gods can be better appeased by helping the less fortunate.
Devika Kale, who has been leading the campaign for the past three years, said the volunteers collected about 250 litres of milk on Monday. “Over the years, we have seen fewer people pouring copious amounts of milk on the idol. People have started becoming aware of the kind of wastage this leads to, and are choosing to donate the milk instead,” she added.
Among those who donated their milk to the poor was Sheetal Ganatara, a 42-year-old homemaker from Mulund. Stating that she gave away three pouches of milk this year, she said, “I have been pouring milk on the Shivaling since my childhood. But two years ago, my daughter asked me to donate the milk because she thought pouring it on the idol amounted to wasting it.”
After collecting the milk, the volunteers boiled it in a large vessel — adding sugar, spices and dry fruits for flavour. “We hired three small tanks and transported the milk to Golavali, a village near Kalyan. The milk was distributed among the 500-odd villagers there. They were extremely thrilled because this was the only ‘celebration’ they were going to have for Mahashivratri,” said 22-year-old Mayank Salvi, another volunteer.