It is not that I have anything against visiting temples, or waiting patiently for my turn to have the darshan. This article is neither a generalization of the experiences or a criticism of people who visit temples. It is just my experience and overwhelming feelings which I would like to express.
We visited six temples / shaktipeeths in Himachal during the past long weekend. This one is about Chintpurni temple in Kangra.
The temple is situated at a height of 940 meters and we have to park around 2 km away from the temple. The whole path leading to the temple is very scenic. This temple is one of the 51 shaktipeeths, where the feet of mata Sati fell. According to markandeya purana, this is where the goddess Chandi defeated demons here and satisfied the thirst of two of her emanations by cutting her own head and feeding them blood. The devi is depicted as Chinnamastika here. It is also said that any wish of the devotee of pure heart is granted here.
We were forewarned that since this is the month of Sawan, there will be a queue of at least 4-5 hours for darshan but no forewarning prepared us for what we faced! Well, the queue as expected was more than a kilometer long and we moved inch by inch ahead. There were police personnel everywhere keeping the crowd in order, even a token system was established and finally we reached the temple compound in an hour and half. As they waited, people were chanting ‘Jai Mata Di’ on one hand and arguing with others who were trying to sneak their way into the queue. With kids constantly cribbing, rain and sun tiring us out, the only motivation that kept us going was the thought of how we would feel later about turning back without the Mata’s darshan after reaching Her ‘dwar’. But then the real torture was yet to begin!
As we entered the temple compound, it seemed as if all police personnel vanished and same with queues as well! The whole crowd became unruly, pushing and I am surprised how people with small kids managed! My own little one was on the shoulders of her father (more because she was totally tired but it really saved her from being smothered, I believe). Well, for the ones advocating positive thinking, one only had to stand to reach the mata’s darbar! The crowd was totally out of control as we neared the sanctum santorum ….
Moreover by the time I reached the sanctum santorum, I also had to devote my attention to offering the Prasad and making sure that I receive the packet back from the pandit( it was not at all possible for the pandit to ensure that the right packet goes to the right hand, it had to be our onus!). And in a matter of seconds, I was pushed out, my time in front of the Devi was over! I didn’t even get a glimpse of the Diety.
To tell the truth, I had something specific to pray and I was thinking about it the whole way, framing the prayer to the mata, but by the time we reached in front of Her, I forgot about it completely! So pestered I was with the crowd, busy with the Prasad and other religious rites, the wish didn’t even come up in my mind.
Was it a darshan in the true sense? Was reaching the temple and infront of the Devi was sufficient? Many more questions propped up in my mind as we got out to the outer compound. I wondered about others as well.
Did anyone in the queue feel any devotion while pushing and shoving?
Are people just visiting because of the stories of miracles happening here and have heard stories about the power of the Devi?
Or have they accepted that this type of behavior is norm and part of visiting a temple?
Frankly, I was relieved (and my kids more!) once we were out of the temple and sitting in the car again!
Did the darshan serve any purpose – I am not sure. But it has been one of a kind experience, I would say!