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Thursday, June 25, 2020

administration of holy Kedarnath !

Hari Om.. Hari Om... Hari Om... Hari Om.. Hari Om... Hari Om...

Omkareswari Sri hari nagari idhigo ra badari
Vaikunteswari siri ki nagari Adhigo mahima giri..
Ee kondapai Maa kandaga ~ aa vishu paadame Velasindhi
Vedaalane virachinchina sri vyasa peetamai nilichidhi
Alaka nanda jala sangeetam Sri hari naamam
Vushna kunda jala daaralalo hari bhakthula snanam
Gnanam, Moksham mosage vaikuntam

.. .. .. song from Allu Arjun starrer ‘Badrinath’ sung by Shankar Mahadevan, MM Keeravani – music by Maragathamani Keeravani.  In recent times, I have heard this song at least 100 times ~ so impressed by the Song, music, picturisation and most importantly .. .. ‘Jai Bolo Badrinath’ – the holy place for Sri Vaishnavaites.

The story of Yayati  is mentioned in Bhagavata Puranam as also in Maha Baratham. Yayati,  the son of king Nahusha is considered to be the ancestor of Pandavas and one of ancestors of Pandavas. He ruled over this place.  It is here that the most important rivers of the Nation ~ the Ganges and Yamuna originate. It has the religiously important places of Badrinath and Kedarnath.  It also has the  Valley of Flowers, a Unesco World Heritage Site known for the variety and rarity of the flowers and plants……… but is in news making all of us sad.

It is Uttarakhand known  "Land of the Gods" due to the many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres.   This became a State in Nov 1999. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city in the region, which is a railhead. The high court of the state is in Nainital.  These places were affected so badly due to flash floods and cloud bursts in 2012.  With pilgrims and tourists stranded in flash floods in Uttarakahand, Govts  rushed teams to the hill state to help bring back the affected persons and also announced aid. Good administration has ensured that the holy places have recovered so well now. 

Badri & Kedar are associated .. ..  .. .. Kēdārnāth Mandir is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is on the Garhwal Himalayan range near the Mandakini river in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand in India. Due to extreme weather conditions, the temple is open only between the end of April (Akshaya Tritriya) to November (Kartik Purnima - the autumn full moon). During the winters, the vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple are brought to Ukhimath and worshipped there for six months. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Kedarnath, the 'Lord of Kedar Khand', the historical name of the region. Our Prime Minister worshipped here when the Temple was opened after the floods and visits almost every year on special occasions –  in year 2019,  he visited on Deepavali day and celebrated the festival with our army jawans in the region.

The Kedarnath temple is not directly accessible by road and has to be reached by a 18 kilometres (11 mi) uphill trek from Gaurikund.  Pony and manchan services are available to reach the structure. The  temple was initially built by Pandavas, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest Hindu shrines of Shiva  It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, expounded in Thevaram. Pandavas were supposed to have pleased Shiva by doing penance in Kedarnath . The temple is one of the four major sites in India's Chota Char Dham pilgrimage of Northern Himalayas.

In 2012, massive flash floods swept through Uttarakhand. The deluge claimed 197 lives.  Kedarnath was the worst affected area during the 2013 flash floods in North India. The temple complex, surrounding areas and Kedarnath town suffered extensive damage, but the temple structure did not suffer any "major" damage, apart from a few cracks on one side of the four walls which was caused by the flowing debris from the higher mountains. 

When I heard the name of the movie as ‘Kedarnath’ – I feared that it could be yet another stupid, so called ‘love-story’.  One review stated that it takes 10 quick minutes to figure out the story of Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath. Starring Sushant Singh Rajput and debutant Sara Ali Khan, Kedarnath begins by paying tribute to the victims of the “Uttarakhand floods in June 2013”.   You know how this will end, which is fine. An old, predictable story can be a good story, too. .. but why again and again a hindu girl falling for a muslim youth and why bring in Pandit of the holy Temple !! – take it elsewhere in any valley, any city, any town .. put any hero, any heroine … why – why Kedarnath ?  ~ another stupid love story of rich girl believing that only poor is good at heart and falling for him !! (how many fathers will like this happening in real life – we all know the reaction of one director cum hero who preaches love in movies – but when his daughter fell in love, he resorted to rowdyism !!)   Kedarnath movie’s mediocrity was unique: it did not entertain; had no logic, only offended Hindu sentiments – yet another movie showing that Hinduism can be ridiculed so easily.

Moving away, in 2011, there was a Telegu film by name ‘Badrinath’  directed by V. V. Vinayak, produced by Allu Aravind.  The first para was about the song ‘Omkareswari’ from that film starring Allu Arjun in leading role along with Tamannaah and Prakash Raj. The film revolves around Badri, a skilled warrior trained by a religious Guru Bheeshma Narayan. After being made the protector of Badrinath temple, he finds his loyalties divided when he tries to revive the faith of Alakananda, an atheist, in God and gets caught in violent battles with her cruel uncle Sarkar, while his Guru suspects him to be in love with Alakananda, something against the rules for becoming his successor.

Now there is some trouble and Indian Express reports that ‘Priest protests half-naked in freezing temperatures in Kedarnath’  against constitution of Devasthanam board while Hindustan Times words better stating ‘Kedarnath Priest protests bare-chested’ – it is the views that matters !!

                   A 32-year-old priest is staging a unique protest for the last 10-days just outside Kedarnath temple at an elevation of ever 11,300 feet against the constitution of Devesthanam board by Uttarakhand state government. Santosh Trivedi, the priest who sits three times a day just in front of the revered shrine in just one cloth which is a 'Dhoti' draped around his lower body at freezing temperatures of 3-5 degrees has not seized to sit on protest even if it rains.

"My protest is against the formation of the Devsthanam Board. This move is to deprive us priests from our traditional rights. I will continue my protests," says Trivedi.  Trivedi sits on protest for the duration of 45 minutes to 90 minutes thrice a day. The first sit-in starts as early as 5: 30 am during the morning aarti when temperature is almost freezing at 3 or 4 degree celsius. The second sit-in starts at around 12 pm in the noon, for 45 minutes, during 'Bhog Prasad' of the lord Kedarnath and lastly, he sits for around 1.30 hours during the evening aarti, around 6 pm. Brijesh Sati, spokesperson of Devbhoomi Teerthpurohit Char Dham Mahapanchayat, a body representing the priests, commenting on the issue said, "We are planning to hold such protest in all 4 temples of Char Dham which includes Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath. We will sit in similar kind of protest soon if the government fails to address our concerns."

Meanwhile, thousands of priests associated with Char Dham and 47 other temples (Total 51) from across the hill state are already protesting against the state government since it has passed the Char Dham Shrine Board Bill, last year. According to the priests, the arrangement by the State government  on the lines of Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and Tirupati Balaji Shrine Board aims to deprive them of their traditional rights and take control of the shines. Earlier, last year, the priests associations of Uttarakhand in a blood-written letter to Prime Minister of India has requested to intervene in a matter concerning new law about managment of Char Dhams.  In December 2019, in a big win for government, the bill related to management of Char Dham was passed after discussion in Uttarakhand state assembly.  After discussion of over two hours, and suggestions to 'improvise' the law, the name of the bill was changed from Char Dham Shrine Board Management Bill 2019 to Uttarakhand Char Dham Devshtanam Management Board 2019.

For us in Tamil Nadu, nothing is news – our Temples are firmly in the grip of State Govt and mostly in the hands of non-believers who use the temple funds for purposes other than those for which they were made.  There appears separate laws of Hindu religious places, Temples, Mutts while other places of worship get financial grant, support and are totally independent.  We hear of corruptions, misuse and even changing of Idol but the perpetrators are free, recently an official arrested on severe charges was reinstated.  Govt announces that crores would be diverted from Temple funds for relief but not from other religious places. When there is trouble to any of these temples, the Department never protests – temples are divided into zones of hierarchy according to their revenue collection, the officials are paid huge salaries, funds gets diverted to every activity but not much spent on the Temple and other Hindu religious activities.

Sad is the state of affairs – from end Mar 2020, the Temples remain closed; annual Uthsavams are not taking place, yet majority Hindus do not realize, do not make a whimper for proper conduct of temple rituals and do not cry for their inability to offer worship. Sad .. .. we miss darshan of our Emperuman Sri Parthasarathi and it is almost certain that the annual Aani Brahmothsavam of Sri Azhagiya Singar scheduled to start on June 29 too would not take place.

What do we do ! .. .. not even condemnation .. .. some of us cry at heart !

With grief – adiyen dhasan
S. Sampathkumar
All photos in this post taken from twitter (source not known)

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