Mahakaal temple to shut online arti passes, devotees surprised

  • Sandeep Vatsa, Hindustan Times, Ujjain
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2016 19:55 IST
Devotees participating in the Bhasma arti at Mahakaal temple. (HT file photo)

The Mahakaal temple administration has decided to suspend online booking facility for Bhasma arti darshan during the Simhastha fair in Ujjain, leaving the district administration and devotees surprised.

Divisional commissioner Ravindra Pastore said he would ask the temple administration as to why such an important facility was being withdrawn right at a time when the pilgrims’ footfall would increase. The online passes would remain suspended during April 22 to May 21. Since the passes are booked one month before. The online facility would remain off in March itself, temple sources said.

Bhasma arti takes place in the wee hours at the temple in Ujjain. At the HT’s initiative, the temple trust had made 600 out of 2200 free arti passes available online a few years ago. Following the decision to withdraw the facility, the devotees would have to make a beeline for the offline counter on the temple compound to avail themselves of the passes, which is bound to create chaos.

However, temple administrator R P Tiwari admitted that the decision had been taken to this effect and that the online booking would remain suspended from March onwards. He said the temple allowed only offline pass distribution during the month of Shrawan (July- August) every year. This year also the temple was following the same system, he said. Tiwari, however, could not give a solid reason behind the decision and said, “We wish to accommodate more and more devotees at the temple for bhasma arti.”

However, regular visitors to the temple alleged that this was the temple administration’s ploy to gather crowds at the temple. They also alleged that the temple touts sell free arti passes for as much as Rs1000 a piece. The administration is already reserved 1100-odd passes for VVIPs and the rest are sold in black. This would leave nothing for genuine devotees, they alleged.

Pankaj Pathak, an engineer from Mumbai, who used to avail himself of the online facility whenever he came to Ujjain, was shocked to hear about temple administration’s move to withdraw the online facility. “I am unable to understand the logic behind the decision as the facility is most convenient. Most people who visit the temple go there to attend the bhasma arti.”

Other devotees expressed surprise too and said that at a time when the district administration was making loud claims to have put in place ‘high-tech’ arrangements for the Simhastha fair, the temple administration’s decision was quite an anti-thesis of the concept. They indirectly referred to temple administrator Tiwari who also happens to be the joint district collector.

Ironically, this fair has been termed ‘high-tech’ with all possible use of technology like internet, GPS, GIS being used to ensure efficient arrangements.

A special mobile application has been developed to for Simhastha arrangements which would have all information about the location of different seer camps, hospitals, mass transport system, parking lots and online availability among others. Similarly, the command and control system to monitor the arrangements of sanitation, water supply, drainage, electricity besides working and location of employees would be in place to make things easy for the devotees.

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