Kota: "Please let me get selected in NEET 2023", "Dear God, please give my concentration back", "AIIMS Delhi please", "IIT Delhi for me and Google for my brother" -- these are not part of any diary but wishes scribbled on "wall of beliefs" at a temple here by scores of coaching centre students. Lakhs of students come to Rajasthan's coaching hub Kota every year with dreams of getting into some of the country's most prestigious engineering and medical colleges, but many soon find themselves bogged down by hectic routines, peer pressure and the burden of expectations.
According to the priests at the Radha Krishna temple in Talwandi area, the faith of students has been so strongly cemented over the years that the temple has to be repainted every two months. More than 300 students visit the temple daily, they said.
A record two lakh students have enrolled in various coaching institutes here this year. Initially seen as defacement by the temple authorities, the "wall of beliefs" was named after the temple became popular in early 2000 when a few students who had scribbled their prayers cleared the engineering entrance exam IIT JEE and medical entrance tests.
"Long back, when a few students came to pray here, they scribbled their wishes asking for their selection in IIT JEE or medical entrance tests. A few months later, parents of two students visited the temple and offered to make a donation for the temple claiming the wishes of their children scribbled on the wall have been fulfilled and from there it became a trend.
"Initially, people used to write their wishes anywhere on the temple walls and we tried discouraging them citing defacement and also warned of action. But later when the faith of locals and students got cemented, we decided to make dedicated areas in the temple and called it 'wall of beliefs," Kishan Bihari, one of the temple priests, told PTI.
Another priest Trilok Sharma said the temple is repainted every two months because the walls often get filled with wishes and there is no space for others to write. "Whenever students come, we also give them blessings and prashad and encourage them that God only helps when you do your best. Hardwork is the key. "We keep talking to students and parents. At times we find students have even written the choice of their colleges or their ranks. We explain that it is good to manifest but it also has to be supplemented with efforts," he said.
Battling with stress amid the cut-throat competition, the temple is also the place for students to meditate and feel better. "I have not written my wish on the wall yet, I will write it closer to the main exam when I have confidence in my preparation. But during my course, whenever I feel low or stressed, I come here and offer my prayers or do meditation to feel better," said Pragati Sahu, a National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) aspirant from Madhya Pradesh.
Another student Kashish Gupta, a Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)aspirant from Maharashtra, said, "It is not like someone will write that I want No. 1 rank and he or she will get it but the popular idea is that give your hundred per cent and write your wish accordingly".
Many of the wishes scribbled on the walls are also about gaining concentration and focus, removing negative thoughts besides wishes of making families back home proud. The temple is not only popular among students but also their parents who make it a point to visit it whenever they come to pick or drop their wards.
"When we came to Kota for admission of my son, we got to know about the temple. But we couldn't visit then and I also thought its hardwork which fulfils these wishes and not writing on any wall. But many of my son's seniors, who made the wishes, got selected so I also decided to come this time and he has written his wish on the wall as well," said Priyanka Mittal, mother of a JEE aspirant.
Back-to-back lectures, test series, a constant race to outdo one's peers and trying to keep pace with the curriculum -- this is what the average day of a student studying in a Kota coaching centre looks like.
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