Seeking ‘divine help’ to de-seal shops in Delhi’s Amar Colony, priest sits on 9-day chant
Sitting on a podium at a pavement in the Amar Colony market – where around 400 shops had been sealed by the municipal corporation last March —Laxmi Narayan, a man in his 70s, chants a doha (prayer).
With the loudspeaker attached to his microphone kept on full volume, the chant reverberates all around, raising hopes among shopkeepers in the area.
Narayan — a priest who arrived in the city from Mehandipur Balaji in Rajasthan just days ago — has taken upon himself the task of ensuring that the shops are reopened soon, by conducting a nine-day religious ritual and chanting mantras.
But it was only by chance that Narayan had come to know of the sealing of shops in the market. Around six days ago, Narayan had landed up in the market, looking for a particular shop. But when he saw most of the shops with their shutters downed, he asked some shopkeepers in the area the reason behind this blanket shutdown.
When the shopkeepers described their problems since the sealing drive, conducted on the recommendation of Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee, Narayan told them it was time for divine intervention.
“I was crossing the market when I saw all the shops closed. I asked around and got to know about the sealing drive and how the shops have been closed. That was when I suggested the shopkeepers to conduct a religious ritual to get their shops opened,” Narayan, who originally hails from Punjab, said.
The shopkeepers — who had, till then, lost all hopes of justice and recovering their losses — found hope in his words and decided to be part of the ritual.
Sanjay Arora, the owner of a shop in the busy market, sprung into action to organise the programme after Narayan told him that he would chant mantras for nine days so that his prayers reach the people who have sealed the market and they take back their orders. Arora, who has run from pillar to post to get his shop desealed, said organising the ritualistic prayer was his last-ditch attempt to revive the shop and his livelihood.
“Panditji came to me one day and suggested we should do conduct a religious prayer to get our shops de-sealed. We want our sources of livelihood back. Hence, we agreed to make this effort and organised this,” Arora said.
Another shopkeeper, Manmohan Shyam Mehra, said they tried all possible ways to get their shops desealed and met all authorities, pleading for their mercy. However, he said, none of them have listened to their ordeals. “We have gone everywhere but nothing positive has happened. We are even ready to pay fines. Despite that, the authorities are not ready to budge from their stand. I am bankrupt and have borrowed money from the relatives to pay my children’s school fees,” Mehra said. He said he is hopeful that the divine intervention might actually help.
Narayan, meanwhile, is confident that ritual will help the shopkeepers. “I have strong belief that the prayers would reach the authorities and finally some wisdom would fall upon them and they will deseal the shops,” he said.
Officials of the municipal corporation of Delhi, however, could not be reached for a comment.