Sunday, January 16, 2011

God's own country

God’s own country has once again acted like God.

With no mercy, it has taken away the lives of more than a hundred and all because they sought solace from the Almighty.

Like many, I think it was an avoidable disaster. Everyone, including those in authority knew that lakhs were using this route to reach Sabarimala, yet they were not stopped. But stopping them would not have been easy either since it would then having been akin to hurting religious sentiments. Yet, something could have been done especially since there is no lack of money pouring in.

But then there are Hindus who think otherwise too. For them, a pilgrimage to Sabarimala has always been a penance. They take Vritham (fast) for 41 days and undergo many trials to reach the Sannithanam. In earlier days, this journey was even more dangerous since there were also wild animals to face. Yet, they undertook the journey even if they had to face death. Having lived in the high ranges, I have seen pilgrims from the state of Tamilnadu walking a whole lot more distance in earlier days, to reach Sabarimala.

After the 1999 tragedy at Sabarimala, as usual, there were discussions and commissions and recommendations from well meaning people. But nothing was done.

I am not sure if it is only the increase in population in India, but overall there is an increase in the number of people thronging to religious places, be it the Church, Temple or Mosque. As for Christians, there are now more thronging to places and people outside the traditional Church. I think people have lost faith in humanity and are desperately seeking God. May the Almighty Himself give us a solution?


  1. It was a horrible, horrible, disaster!

    From the news reports it appears that the arrangements by the authorities could have been better.

    However, it is true that lakhs of pilgrims going on such a hazardous route at one time is a recipe for disaster.

    I have never understood what is so auspicious about going on a pilgrimage on a particular day. If I go to a temple I usually avoid festival/ holy days so there will not be a crowd here!

  2. I have an entirely different take on the whole issue. Let us face the facts. No matter how much precautions we take, there is no way to prevent such stampedes when thousands are packed in such small places. Even if you have 100 or 1000 security personnel at that particular point, even they would have been sucked into the stampede. Even Ayyappa swamy could not have prevented this. This incident reflects human error and human behaviour under strain. The only solution is to restrict the number of people; which is the most unlikely scenario when you consider religious sentiments. This is what we call "FATE". There is no other explanation.

  3. There is not much point in blaming the authorities as a whole Asha, especially you're dealing with a heavily wooded, protective, hilly terrain with severe construction restrictions and environmental constraints and dealing with pilgrims in crores. Even Mecca still gets its share of disasters inspite of all the possible precautions.

    There is an overwhelming number of Police force en route and in Sabarimala but the believers always find ways to reach the pinnacle away from the set and protected pathways. What can the authorities possibly do if the pilgrims keep on indulging in such dangerous practices of finding shortcuts to disaster. Its not humanly possible to man all the 50odd km of forest roads and control people in such huge numbers especially if they're in no mood to obey the laws.

    One can only hope such tragic stories wont come out anymore, last of all places from such holy shrines.

  4. Such a sad tragedy, isn't it? And you know, stampedes and accidents like this happens routinely across India - I can't help feeling that it is avoidable. We don't have any crowd management measure, what-so-ever. Yes, the terrain is treacherous, but surely, something can be done to make sure that accidents like this do not occur.

    And then, our people believe in these things so strongly! The combination of deep belief and apathy from the authorities - a sure recipe for disaster..

  5. Manju: Yes, it was a horrible disaster and after reading many I am not sure how it can be solved. Since the "Makara Jyoti" occurs on a particular day, it is only natural that the pilgrims would want to witness it. And the reports that come out are still not clear. While one report says that these pilgrims were standing on top of a vehicle and it fell over the pilgrims; another says that there was a small fight between a taxi driver and an auto driver. I tried switching channels to listen to many telling their own version and I guess until the judicial inquiry is over, one will never know what triggered the incident.

    Sakthikumar: A warm welcome to my blog.
    Wish it was easy to blame Fate.. but everyone knows that there needs to be a solution and I only hope someone comes up with a viable one and implements it too.

  6. Scorpio: Even if it looks hopeless, a solution is needed since I am sure the influx of pilgrims are only going to increase and not decrease.

    Smitha: The combination of deep belief and apathy from the authorities - a sure recipe for disaster..

    You said it Smitha... the oldies would love to have their Sabarimala back, without the police and the massive crowd but that is never going to happen.

  7. it is always the arrangements from authorities which lack .They alwqays wake up after any tragedy. What actually district administration does? they are there for these things..why couldnt they anticipate the crowd or why were not there any systems?

  8. Renu: A warm welcome to my blog.
    Yes.. something could have been done to avoid this. Please go through the following links if you have time.

  9. It is no longer Gods own country.The name itself was stolen from Newzelanders.I had written a blog once on Devils own country which better suits the place.
    It was a real tragedy.I don't know if it could have been avoided.One thing is sure.They collect millions of rupees from that shrine,and is obliged to spend at least part of it on development of the place.

  10. Quite a bit of discussion have taken place on the topic . Though I'm quite away from all the isms, I feel that as long as man cannot have peace within himself , as long as he is ridden by doubts and fear, he will take to faith and beliefs,and will go any length seeking the elusive nirvana and enlightenment.And such tragedies will follow.

    It indeed is surprising that Siddartha could meditate under the tree and be enlightened, where as in this age people cross mountains seeking salvation and enlightenment.

  11. Dr: I am yet to read the post on Devil's own country.. never knew that it was a term coined by the NZ's. Yes.. something ought to have been done, else we wouldnt have lost so many to death.

    AK: A warm welcome to my blog.
    A tragedy can occur anywhere. God nor faith can be blamed, not when he has given man sense and the authority over himself. We can only hope that this sensibility will prevail.


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