I was recently on a trip to bangalore. I went to a temple of Lord Shiva where a 65 feet high statue was kept with a backdrop of Mount Kailash and river Ganga. The whole temple was very beautiful and very nicely built. I had been to many temples but I haven’t seen a better marketting place than that.
I am not criticising the temple nor I want to hurt religious sentiments. Only thing I want to say is there was too much money involvement. In fact I was impressed by the strategies and ideas that were used inside the temple to make people spend money on temple.
As soon as we entered the temple, we were asked by the guard. “You want to go by a special queue or a normal queue? The normal queue will take ur lot of time. You only need to pay Rs. 50 for special queue.” This was idea no.1 straight at the entry gate, though not a new idea.
We decided to go by the so called normal queue as I am against the shortcuts for darshan in temples. There was indeed a long queue but it was not a problem for us. I had enough experience of standing in lone queues in Mahakaleshwar temple in my city.
Now the queue was going through a path which had shops on both sides. The shops were selling all kinds of things like religious photos and other goods, kitchn articles, jwelleries, electronic goods, clothes etc. So while standing in a queue you don’t need to think about God but can have look at shopping material. I think one more good idea that was used was that in a queue you won’t get much time to think. If you like a thing your buying decision will come instantly as the queue would be moving forward and you would not want to loose your place.
After some time we reached a counter which was issuing token for our footwears. The charges were on per person basis not on a group and that too were compulsory. I was looking at everything and couldn’t stop appreciating the brain behind all these. But this was just begining.
Then a counter came where you were supposed to pay 10 Rs. and they will issue you 101 copper coins. Then in the queue path there were kept 101 boxes where you should drop 1 coin in each box and take 1 Lord shiva name written on that box. So in the end you will take 101 names of shiva. The idea was good but important thing was they were earning 10 Rs. from each person without any investment as they were recollecting the coins. Though this step was not mendatory but everyone was following it.
After a few steps further an exhibition came displaying models of all 12 Jyotirlingas. The entry fees was Rs. 10 /person. The exhibition was very nice and models were looking very much like the real ones.
As soon as you come out of exhibition, you see a counter where you can pay Rs. 10 to buy some deepak (candles) and make them go in a pond. The claim was you can get rid of your sins by lighting these deepaks.
Then there was a place to buy special prasad for again Rs. 10. Finally we saw the exit point. The exit way again took us through similar path having shops on both sides.
Apart from all this there were regular money stops like different kinds of religious rituals whose cost ranging from Rs. 50 to Rs. 500. I know that money is necessary for maintenance of temple but I think this money can be spent for social causes to make God happy. This thing applies to all big temples in our country.
Finally we were outside the temple. I enjoyed the beauty of temple and ambience. The point I was trying to make is between all this we forget to remember God which was the purpose to go to temple. Atleast I couldn’t do that.