Vrindavan, 2018.12.09 (VT): With the efforts of Banke Bihari Temple management and districts administration proving inadequate, the former has now turned to the general public for suggestions on how to better facilities and crowd supervision in the temple.
Notices inviting recommendations on issues such as widening and beautification of lanes leading to the temple, restoration and repair of premises, crowd control and security have been put up in the temple precincts. People have been asked to respond by December 15.
Thousands of devotees visit Banke Bihari temple every day, and crowd management has always been a challenge for authorities. Several measures have taken in the past, but their sloppy implementation has left visitors unhappy. Here, it will be worthwhile to note that ‘Braj Teerth Vikas Parishad’ set up by Yogi Adityanath-led state government, had announced plans to spend nearly Rs100 crore to renovate Banke Bihari temple last year.
The management has, on several occasions earlier, laid out general rules/guidelines for the safety and convenience of visitors. In addition to being instructed against carrying bags and valuable items, they have been asked to watch out for pick-pocketeers lurking in and around temple premises. The authorities have also requested devotees to avoid bringing old, sick and handicapped people or small children with them on special occasions when there is huge rush.
The move assumes greater significance given the security threat looming on Hindu pilgrimages and gatherings in India. Banke Bihari temple has also received threats in the past, particularly on occasions such as Janamashtami. In August last year, two consecutive shootings took place inside the temple within a week. The gunshots resulted in stampede as panic-stricken people ran amok.
It is estimated that 20-30,000 devotees visit Bihariji temple everyday and it is not possible to manage the crowds without help from police whose deployment is funded by the public. In 2017, Braj Vikas Tirtha Parishad (BVTP) attempted to appoint receivers in Braj’s most frequented temples. The receivers were to calculate and distribute donations, reserving a large portion for development work. The plan was rolled back in the wake of protests threatening to shut down temple activities.Since then severalattempts forgovernment control of temple funds have been thwarted successfully.
In December 2017, Mathura administration sought the local court’s permission to extend darshan timings by two hours each, in the morning and evening, even as temple authorities and brajwasis were against defiling the years’-old tradition established by Swami Haridas. While this attempt also failed, another rpetition challenging the status quo was filed in April 2018.
In conclusion, the only solution that has had some positive effect on crowd control is the regulation of entry and exit points to ensure that people move through the temple in one direction. It was also decided that devotees will be allowed inside in batches to avoid overcrowding.