It was nearly five hours after standing in queue that Riya Baniya, a 12-year-old girl, managed to get darshan at the Babulnath temple, which is one of the prominent Shiva temples located at Girgaon Chowpatty. Scores of devotees thronged the temple on Saturday which marked Mahashivratri. The occasion is celebrated as the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
A resident of Currey Road, Baniya had tagged along with her neighbour aunt after hearing much about the temple's popularity. “It was nice and peaceful. I wanted to see the (annual event) so I just tagged along. I could not offer water as the timing to offer it was over but performed other rituals,” said a barefoot Baniya standing beside her aunt, Archana Shinde. Both were among the scores of devotees who stood for long hours, many barefoot, raising religious chants or singing devotional songs unmindful of the time it would take for getting darshan.
“No matter how much time it takes, we make it a point to take the darshan on this day,” said Rishika Vaghela, a Malad resident who was waiting for an hour for HER (NOT - his) turn. Expressing his devotion, collegian Vaghela said that she and her friends make it a point to visit a Shiva temple every Monday – a day associated with Lord Shiva – to ensure that their wishes get fulfilled.
In the case of Maya Joshi, a Chira Bazaar resident, it is sheer inner calling that she was answering. “I visit the temple when I feel from inside that I have to stand before God. It is just devotion,” said Joshi with the divine word 'Om' smeared on her forehead.
Some believed in living by God's words through sheer action. Jai Bhavani Seva Manch, Shree Ram Seva Samiti and Aniruddha's Academy of Disaster were among them. “We believe serving humans is the real service. We offer water, fruit and chips (to fasting devotees),” said Bala Phope, president of Jai Bhawani who along with Shree Ram Samiti gave away nearly 2,000 bananas, 21,000 water bottles, and 2,000 packets of chips.
While performing the noble initiative, it's being ensured that there is no commotion. “In case of emergency, we provide paramedical help,” said Ramesh Girkar from Annirudha's Academy which had 130 people in the second shift monitoring the crowd outside Babulnath Temple.
Those like Mili Shetty, who did not visit any temple, had her own way of reverence. “I gave milk to dogs in the area. Dogs are considered to be with Dattatreya (a mythological character). It is better to give them milk than offering it in a way that goes waste,” said the Kandivali resident who offered prayers at her home and then fed people around.
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