Ok.. I actually didnt say it very boldly. I was unable to decide fast and make it right too. But after sometime, I felt there is no right or wrong decision – it depends on YOU who is impacted by the decision. After all, its your life and you should make it right for you. Ask me why all this unnecessary gyan… I was facing this situation last weekend. We (I, S and my sis) went to Tirupathi – my cousin bro was having the thread ceremony ( We call it Odugu, the function where the scared thread that is worn by the Brahmin men). Feb 26th was the day set for the thread ceremony. But we didnt anticipate the whole world and its relatives to have marriages and all other functions on the same day, that too in the same place. In my 25 years of going Tirupathi every year, I have never seen such crowd. There was not even an inch place anywhere free. People were rushing from everywhere – no place to sit or sleep. No rooms too – which means ppl occupied footpaths to bathrooms when it came to taking rest and I am not exaggerating here. Luckily, we had done the online booking for rooms and we were allocated a nice cottage.
Due to sudden illness last week coupled by the continuous weekend travels, I was already dog tired. I was taking a number of medicines and all of them had only one effect on me – causing me immense drowsiness. I was even skeptical of going to the function given my condition, but somehow made it there. Now my family (only mine) believes that when we go to a sacred place (especially Tirupathi) we will definitely visit the temple. We all had the online reservation for 4Pm Darshan on Saturday. The function was on Sunday after which one more Darshan had to be done. We decided that we will take the 300Rs Darshan after the function. The very thought of taking two darshans was putting off S. He argued with me saying God is everywhere and I respect your family decision to go for a Darshan.. but why two? I had no answer. That is how it had been for all the years. We will usually stay for 2 days and take as many darshans as possible. (it was during the good old days when we had so much time and energy). I just said we will take one and then I will go on alone for the next one. This was an agreed plan. But luck had its time – I had forgot to take the print out of the reservation voucher. I don’t know why – this is the first time I am forgetting something like this. I and sis were feeling no better after lunch. But we didnt give up – tried to look for an internet cafe but no such luck. Finally we decided that we will take only the 300Rs Darshan on Sunday. We came home to have a sound sleep (from 3.30pm till 6Pm almost) while the rest of them (two brothers, cousin and pedhanannagaru) went to the darshan. We waited, waited and waited for them to come back. Our wait ended only at 10Pm. What… spent more than 7 hours in the queue with multiple pushing/pulling, endless fights, children screaming, not a percentage of fresh air, not even comfortable space to stand on single leg and all that. They were completely drained out of energy – who can stand in a position for 45 mins without even lifting/moving hands? After some point of time, my pedhanannagaru (dad’s bro) had high BP, chest pain coupled with vomiting sensation and his eye balls were peeping out it seems. All these symptoms weren’t for good and had both my bros worried. After 5 hours in the queue, all their thoughts were to somehow come out of it.. but how? There is no way out – once in the middle of the queue, one has to go through everything till the end. They were totally frustrated – hunger, thirst, tiredness and then the endless pushing was too much to withstand. They saw the God finally but was it worth the effort? Definitely no. Only 2 secs of some figure which seems like the Lord. All of them had to take a painkiller later. They decided against going for the 300Rs darshan on Sunday which left only the three of us. My pedhanannagaru’s suggestion was that we have to stand in the queue as early as 8Am in the morning irrespective of the function to atleast come back by night 7Pm. We decided against that – our priority was the function. As expected, Sunday saw much more crowd. In the Sangam where we had the function held had 270 marriage bookings on that particular day and for each function atleast 50ppl were present. Wherever I turn my eyes, all I could see was a wedding. We heard that the ppl who went on VIP darshan at 4.30Am in the morning could return only at 9.30Am. If VIP Darshan takes 5 hrs, what would be the case of the others. We decided against vising the temple which was not very much liked by the elders of the family including my dad. But let it be. I was not going to put our lives at risk. We wanted to attend the function and we did that. My dad has not confronted me till now and even I am dreading this subject. One of the main fears elders have is that, God will punish you when you have not paid a visit to him even after coming closer to it. But my reasoning is – if God has to punish us for every mistake we do, he would only be busy in doing that. If I want peace of mind, I will better go to the Balaji temple locally than to have me crushed in Tirupathi. I am no more skeptical about my decision. At the maximum I will try to visit Tirupathi at the earliest, to satisfy my parents.
A few pointers about the darshan –
- Whether you go in free darshan/50Rs Darshan/300Rs Darshan, you are treated in the same way and the wait time is no less or no more.
- Ppl never understand that pushing/pulling will only make the standing time even more difficult.
- Bringing less than an year old kids is a real suffering for the family, the kid and the ppl around. When the ppl doesnt have the courtesy to spare the kid, its harmful to bring babies to this place.
- They have a separate queue for old ppl, diabetics, Asthmatic and physically challenged ppl. But what the use if that queue is some 1000pl long? Can they withstand these?
- There is 0% ventilation in 75% of the places which makes the stay even worse.
- There are all sorts of ppl – Men who take advantage of the pushing and have their hands at multiple places on the women around, Ppl who shout even if a finger touches them unintentionally, Ppl who think they should be the only ones going forward.
- What is the fire exit plan that the officials have in place? If there is an emergency, its going to kill lacs and lacs of ppl. It will only be chaotic.
- Why cant these ppl do something to reduce the standing time? I always have this doubt whenever my dad catches up fights with the ppl around (for multiple reasons). At all these times, I get to see the God then and there even while standing in the queue.
- Local transport is so much pain. We ended up paying not less than 100rs even for the smallest distance. Jeep drivers are having a ball.
- Finally about the accommodation. They know that the no. of ppl vising this sacred place have gone tremendously up. Why cant they create better facilities?