March 28, 2013

Temples in Our Forests - Waste Management of ourselves.

Temples of doom they are. Located inside deep forests, these temples may have existed theoretically for millenia, but the boom of travel over the past century threatens to destroy the small amount of forests that we are left with.

A case in point is a temple in Bhimashankar in Maharasthra - supposedly a holy one - and plastic announes that the temple is about to be reached almost 2 kilometres away.

Inside Rajaji National Park - I forget the name of that temple but everyday with elephants grazing nearby, hundreds of our species wander in and out nonchalantly.

Mahadeo hills in the Satpura National Park - Inside deep pristine forests and in highly remote areas, what we see is plastic and flies (more flies than in a comparable city dump)

Is it about us hindu piligrims or is it an universal phenomenon that we completely gloss over the filth all around while we are conducting our faith based devotion to the lords. In one of these forests, I noticed that though the temple was on a hill, the entire escarpment around it was laden with filth making it difficult to walk through. Yet everyone walked on chanting the lord's name and just ignored the stench.

Then we have the public utilities next to even massive temples which were designed to provide facilities to guests who may come for a fair or stay overnight. These toilets, if you can muster the strength to enter one, are hell holes - they announce their presence from miles away and we know that our preferred temple is near. Who designed these toilets, why are they not clean, was it a one time grant, what about cleaning, why do we as a race not make efforts to clean up after we use one of these well intention-ed toilets.

Then we have what we call nature's accidents. Small ponds or a natural cave where water trickles merrily or maybe a slow flowing stream. These are located usually far away from the main temples and would involve a difficult trek to the lord which is a basically a summit climb and rarely easy. These small water bodies in our great wisdom that we have have been basically provided by the gods for our consumptive use. And how we use them... Stench all around, we pollute the very water source which might incidentally also provide pristine drinking water. These sites inside forests possibly remmind us of our induced demise of water bodies in cities and towns. Now that they are all gone, lets kill the remaining ones inside pristine forests.

Hindu forest pilgrimages is closely associated with nature and possibly had a forest officer as one of its leading patrons in the earlier part of written history. For that fellow in all his wisdom decided to strategically fix temples in the most awesome spot he could find within a hundred square kilometres. His judgement was good but that must have been two thousand years ago. With the intensity that we have in being the world number one, these remote locations are now in our doorsteps and we care hoots about the forest, if any is left. What else would explain atleast one temple of national importance in each of the national parks that is there in this country. And with each temple comes an annual fair besides the hundreds who visit daily. Bandipur, Mudumalai, Satpura, Melghat, Rajaji, Nandadevi... our forests may just become a giant dump yard of the religiously minded....