Friday, January 17, 2014

Praise for the orderliness at sabarimala ..


My colleague and Professor in OLS, Prof Ramadoss, former CHRO in Titan Industries and Sr. VP in Tata Sons recently had been to Sabarimala for pilgrimage. He is a veteran Ayyappa devotee of forty years !! ( Sabarimala is one of the most famous pilgrim centres of Hindus from all around the world. Situated in the hills of Idukki dist in Kerala about 70 kms from Chengannur, by the banks of river Pampa, it is said to be the abode of Lord Ayyappa)

It was really great to hear from a thorough HR professional that Sabarimala is the most orderly and disciplined pilgrimage centre in the country. Prof Ramaoss has been visiting Sabarimala during the Makaravilakku time for the past 40 years.

Tirupati Balaji temple is where people can pay, black or white, and make their way to the Balaji. If there is a VIP visitor, depending on how much he can pay, he gets priority, top priority or emergency priority. Everything is measured on the weight of bank notes you carry with you. The devotees who otherwise take 4-5 hours for darshan or view of deity, if there is a VIP visitor, it may take upto 9-10 hours for the same. The Tirupati temple is not bothered about the hardship it causes to the devotees.

But this does not happen at Sabarimala. At Pamba, whether you are rich or poor, healthy , unhealthy, peon or officer, officer or Chairman, it makes no difference. You have to make your way silently and patiently through the queues to have a darshan or view of swami Ayyappa. Nop VIP culture at all.

Vavar palli ..
Prof Ramadoss says Balaji at Tirupati is the rich man's God, while Sabarimala Ayyappan is the poor man's God. You may be the President of the country or a roadside beggar visiting Sabarimala, once you are in the queue, it rarely matters who you are , All are same.

Even though every pilgrim may get just a second or two to see the deity Lord Ayyappan at the Sanniddhaanam, the trip is very rewarding. Encountering the harsh walking through the rough and muddle of the pampa roads on way to Sabarimala, the pilgrimage is one of bearing all hardships and difficulties in life.

A month prior to the pilgrimage all devotees planning to visit the shrine, are compulsorily on a vrath, or fast, not indulging in non-veg food or sexual desires. The pilgrims coming to the place in groups are led by a group leader. The unwritten rule of this group is that nobody coming for the pilgrimage should entertain any negative thinking in his / her mind (women above 50 years are permitted) nor complain of any difficulty or discomfort. Nobody is forcing them to come. So nobody is encouraged to complain about the hygiene, the traffic, food, water, cleanliness, rush, the discomfort, the millions of devotees and the resulting melee, whatever it be. This inculcates a habit of preparing oneself for any difficulties in life, and to weather all discomfort seeking divine help and presence.

It is the only religious place where you can clearly see communal harmony in action. While all across the country, religions are trying to communalise all actions, at Sabarimala, all pilgrims visiting the shrine of Lord Ayyappa also has to visit the Mosque of Vavar, who blesses the pilgrims a safe journey till the shrine. Prof Ramadoss also believes a christian church near the Vavar mosque would have made the concept of communal harmony very much complete.

Previously the river Pampa used to be contaminated by e-coli bacteria but these days police is taking great care to see that the pilgrims get enough place to refresh themselves. Online registering for time to visit the sanctum sanctorum of the temple through the Internet has been a great success. I was told that almost 70% of the people book their darshan time this way.

Were it not for the discipline, hard work and planning of the Kerala Police, this great pilgrimage to Sabarimala would never be such a great success over the years. These policemen may be from any religion, inside the temple premises they do not wear footwear and work wholeheartedly for the success of this annual pilgrimage.

(credit and thanks to the respective organisations for permission to use the pictures and to Prof Ramadoss for his valuable, secular inputs.)

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