Mushrooming shrines


About seven decades ago Basavanagudi was the southernmost locality of Bangalore, beyond which there were only fields and jungles. It was then that we, as primary school children of this locality happened to kill a snake that had sneaked into our playground from the nearby bushes.

Hearing our war cries, a crowd soon gathered and some elders of our locality present there rebuked us for killing the reptile, which, according to them, was a venerable cobra.

To atone the sin, we had committed, they bade us to cremate the body of the snake with due reverence, immerse its ashes in a river and collect funds to raise a shrine at the site of its killing.

Accordingly, we carried its body on a broken asbestos sheet in a procession, cremated it by gathering dry twigs and immersed the ashes in the nearby Chennammanakere lake — now a sprawling layout with the same name! Thereafter we collected donations from the nearby houses and distributed ‘kadlepuri’, which was all we could manage from the funds mobilised.

Enough water has flowed under the bridge since then, but recently I was appalled to read in a news column that a shrine is proposed to be constructed in memory of a pregnant monkey that accidentally got electrocuted in a prominent locality of the city.

Hardly surprising, considering the instances of shrines erected for some favourite film stars by their respective groups of fans.

People of different faiths, especially those in distress, go to their respective places of worship with belief enshrined in their heart in the healing power of the deity they worship. Do the places of worship mushrooming in the aforesaid manner possess enough sanctity to match their belief, which indeed is the very anchor of their spiritual inner self?

A more acceptable way of channelising such sentiments would be to raise funds to help the needy, especially the destitute children aplenty in our land. I am sure the Almighty would indeed bless such philanthropically oriented deeds.

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