The Mahakaleshwar Temple administration’s decision to not to allow pilgrims to sit for bhasma aarti during the month-long Simhastha has been opposed by priests.
Bhasma aarti, a 90-minute ritual starts with opening of temple gates early in the morning.
The administration gives free passes to devotees to sit in the two storied hall outside the sanctum sanctorum, which has a capacity of more than 2,200 people after the recent expansion works. The movement of normal queue remains closed during the arti.
The temple administration announced that devotees will be allowed to enter the temple in a queue during the bhasma aarti during Simhastha but they will not be permitted to sit to watch the ritual so that more pilgrims can have the darshan.
Ashish Pujari, the chief priest at the temple, said movement during the aarti will disturb the rituals as devotees tend to chat while standing in the queues and police have to blow whistle to keep them moving . This will hamper the peaceful atmosphere that is required for chanting of mantras.
Astrologer Anand Shankar Vyas, who has long associated with temple affairs, said opening of gates is already been advanced to 2.30 am by an hour from 3.30 am during Simhastha and devotees can be allowed to enter the temple once the aarti is over by 4 am. I spoke to the authorities to reconsider the decision as capacity of the hall has been increased, he said.
Temple committee chief and district collector Kavindra Kiyawat said with the crowd turnout at the temple expected to increase during Simhastha, the decision has been taken to accommodate as many pilgrims as possible.
The temple management has raised the price of the special darshan pass from Rs 151 to Rs 250 during Simhastha. With the pass, devotee can avoid long queues and have darshan. The temple committee expects to collect more than Rs 48 crore during the current fiscal. It collected more than 27 crore in 2015.