Dousing Babulnath Shiv linga in milk, water, attar causing damage, confirms IIT-B report | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Dousing Babulnath Shiv linga in milk, water, attar causing damage, confirms IIT-B report

ByLinah Baliga
Mar 25, 2023 12:24 AM IST

The report recommends restricting the usage of cow milk and water that devotees pour on the Shiv linga as offering. A board has since been put up inside the Babulnath temple premises prohibiting offerings of milk, Gangajal, honey, sugarcane juice while allowing for bel leaves, flowers, sweetmeats and fruits

Mumbai: The final report submitted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay on the state of the Shiv linga at Babulnath has confirmed the excessive wear and tear the idol has undergone.

Mumbai, India - March 24, 2023: Banners put up at Babulnath Mandir, Walkeshwar, in Mumbai, India, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Mumbai, India - March 24, 2023: Banners put up at Babulnath Mandir, Walkeshwar, in Mumbai, India, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

HT had reported last month that following visible damage to the 350-year-old Shiv linga, temple authorities had sought expert guidance from IIT-Bombay while imposing curbs on the usage and oblation of milk, ash, gulal, sandalwood, attar and other offerings, restricting devotees to only “jal abhishek.”

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The IIT-B report, submitted on Thursday, has now made certain recommendations for the preservation and longevity of the Shiv linga. Chiefly, it has recommended that all offerings with leachable elements must be stopped to ensure safety of the idol. The report recommends restricting the usage of cow milk and water that devotees pour on the Shiv linga as offering. A board has since been put up inside the Babulnath temple premises prohibiting offerings of milk, Gangajal, honey, sugarcane juice while allowing for bel leaves, flowers, sweetmeats and fruits.

“As per the IIT report, we will have to make provision for cow milk sourced from an authorised dairy only if these offerings are to continue at all. For now, though, use of milk as offering on the Shiv linga is stopped,” said Nitin Thakker, chairman of the Babulnath Temple Trust. Milk is offered to the Shiv linga along with water, milk, honey, ghee, curds and other edible ingredients of the panchamrit, and it has everything to do with cleansing the energy. Pouring holy water on the Shiva linga, said Thakker, releases powerful vibrations and energizes the deity. This helps in cleansing the negativity in the aura of the person making the offering.

Thakker said the temple was also tweaking another ritual wherein after the jal abhishek and jal snaan is over, the Shiv linga is doused in attar as part of the idol’s shringar.

“We will now have to find someone who will issue a certificate for the attar because real attar is prohibitive at 5000 for 10gms. We will need to source authentic attar from agents who are certified sellers. At the flower vendors shop at the foot of the temple, attar, bhasma, kumkum are available at Rs25 but they are all adulterated and contain chemicals. We have stopped devotees from using them,” said Thakker.

The IIT-Bombay report has said that since the idols of Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha are made of granite and marble, offerings that are acidic and saline in nature would, after a period of time, lead to significant wear and tear that includes cracking and spalling which also gets exacerbated on account of the numerous wetting and drying cycles.

“Higher ambient humidity levels would aggravate abrasion, erosion and micro fissure formation and facilitate entry of the chemicals into the idols, leading to their severe weathering. If contaminated materials used as offerings are permitted the Shiv linga and other idols might wear and tear over prolonged duration,” says the report.

Haresh Vora, an ardent Shiv devotee, is deeply unhappy with these changes instituted by the temple trustees and accuses them of treating the temple as their personal property. “The Shiv Manas pooja has been going on for 350 years but now it has been stopped. We want the temple to lift all restrictions that came about during Covid and put back the old systems in place,” he says.

The temple trustees had appointed IIT-B in February this year to assess the damage caused to the Shiv linga and to give their recommendations based on scientific findings. The IIT-B team visited the site to examine the Shiv linga and also took samples of various articles offered to the deity. Tests were then run on these offerings to establish the presence of leachable elements which caused the abrasions on the Shiv linga in the long run.

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