Who gained from whom-- the ancient Deori Temple or its famous devotee Team India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni?
The priests are modest enough to give credit to Ranchi's favourite boy Dhoni, saying his "success rate" on the cricket ground has given a boost to the number of devotees who throng Deori Temple at Tamar, about 60 km from here.
"The devotees have grown with the passage of time, thanks to Dhoni's frequent visits to the temple as the local hero cemented his place in the team and was elevated to the captaincy, remaining at the top by winning the two (T20/limited overs) World Cups and other matches," observed a temple priest.
During initial years, Dhoni was competing with Murali Karthik and Parthiv Patel for the wicketkeeper-batsman’s slot and his mighty big hundred against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam, sealed his position.
Dhoni has been visiting the temple even before he made his debut in international cricket.
"Whenever he went to Jamshedpur to play Ranji trophy, he made it a practice to seek the divine blessings at Deori..., he is one of those who have been consistent in ther devotion to the temple," Suraj Mohan, a close friend of Dhoni said.
"Dhoni doesn’t seek blessings only before a match, but also visits it whenever he is at home. Yesterday too he came and offered prayers. He has enormous faith in the deity of the temple," another temple priest Manoj Panda said.
"Nowadays, IAS/IPS officers, politicians and people from all walks of life are thronging the temple," he said. Till a few years ago the ancient Deori Temple was just another religious place for devotees, but now the turnout has increased manifold. Even the Tourism Department has put it on the national tourism map, said Lambodar Mahato, Sub-divisional Officer of Bundu in Ranchi district where the temple is located.
Till a few years ago the temple was frequented by locals and highway passengers, Mahato said. But now it has become a major attraction and the administration iss in the process of acquiring about one-acre land situated opposite the temple to beautify the vicinity and provide essential facilities to the devotees.
It is an ancient temple and the tourism department has proposed to develop three temples -- Deori, Surya Temple, a temple at Haradih, where archeologists found Shivlings, and Dassam waterfall, all situated within the 40 km radius, Mahato told PTI over phone.
The Chhat festival is observed in a grand way at the Surya Temple, situated on the same route, and a popular fair is held every year in January.
"Deori Temple is situated by the NH-33, Ranchi-Tata road, and ever since the media started highlighting Dhoni's visits to Deori temple to seek divine blessings, the number of visitors have swollen, making it a potential tourist attraction," he added.
"The administration is also planning to discuss with the Pandas (priests of the temple) for the temple's further development," he said.