Preferential treatment given to VIPs in various temples around the country has been a part of our tradition since ages. Those with power, money and fame find easy access or ‘Darshan’ of the Almighty while the rest (common public) keep crawling in infinitesimally long queues akin to outcast creatures.
General public (you and me) receives step-motherly treatment from these temple authorities while VIPs seep in through back-doors on the basis of huge ‘moolah’ they command. No one else but ‘Ponga-Pandits’ or the trustees who regulate the proceedings of these temples are directly responsible for letting such a barefaced ‘VIP pass’ system flourish.
Although, courts intervene in such matters now and then, the status quo still remains intact. The commoner almost certainly wants to know how long this nonsense is going to continue.
Here are top 7 temples in India that favor VIPs.
7. Baidyanathan Temple, Deoghar
This is one of the temples that has shrewdly branded a Quick Darshan with the name ‘Shigra Darshaanam’.
Every ‘Shigra Darshaanam’ pass is sold for Rs 500 and only if you are lucky would entitle you for an early darshan because these passes over the counter are always is short supply. However, middlemen having links with temple trustees are said to indulge in all sorts of black marketing tactics. A pass can be availed at Rs 600 to Rs 1000 from these ‘messengers-of-God’.
6. Sai Baba Temple, Shirdi
One of the most revered temples in India, Sai Baba Temple at Shirdi has to its credit around 50,000 devotees visiting it daily. The temple authorities here too have adopted the concept of VIPs entitled to passes. Other than online Darshan (paid), the temple provides VIP passes for anyone not wishing to sweat himself out under the prickly heat of the sun.
The going rate is Rs 500 for ‘kakad aarti’ and Rs 250-300 for ‘dhoop aarti for a much preferred treatment to massage the VIP ego. No menu possesses more versatility in prices than this one, for sure.
5. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain
A famous pilgrimage destination for Hindus, this temple houses one of the 12 Jyotirlingams. Additionally, it is regarded as one of the top 10 tantra temples of India and the only place where ‘Bhasm-Arti’ ritual is practiced in the world. But, for this significance, the temple becomes all the more difficult to access for ordinary folks.
There are two ways to get in through before ‘aarti’ begins – get in a free line or buy a VIP ticket! The latter, in spite of a having a higher price tag, is preferred by all devotees in a position to ‘pay’ for a quicker darshan.
If the first ablutions of Shiva is what a devotee wants to see in-person, he or she better prefer the VIP route to divinity.
4. Vithoba Temple, Pandharpur
No one is better or worse in God’s eyes but it takes serious jostling so that God at least knows there is someone in waiting for his Darshan. At least that’s how it appears on the surface.
At Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur, ‘money’ can help you bypass the long queues with much ease.
Most pilgrims to this temple find it near impossible to arrange for a special VIP pass without bribing the priests. The priests can charge you up to Rs 2000 for a quickie.
This temple recently received a large donation of Rs 1500 crore from some anonymous devotee.
3. Durga Deori Mandir, Ranchi
Durga Deori Mandir came into prominence only recently.Media reports hold that the sports icon and incumbent captain of the Indian cricket team Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an ardent devotee of the Goddess. Even the deities in the Mandir complex seem to be basking in the glory of Mahi’s success’. What used to be low profile affair visit for any pilgrim till very recent times, the Durga Deori Temple has now become a status symbol for many politicians, bureaucrats and local film stars once Dhoni-connection was discovered and made public.
Treasury records from the temple trust have registered an increase in temple collections from a meare Rs 5,000/month till very recent days to Rs 1,00,000 current collections. VIPs in the region have found a new destination and the temple authorities are only too happy to lay out VIP treatment.
2. Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple,Mumbai
From Kapoors to Bachchans, the Bollywood bigwigs and all big names in Mumbai make it a point to mark their presence at Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Temple. If you happen to be in Mumbai and fail to make your name counted in the registers of the religious place, you are definitely losing on something. Just don’t forget to carry along a little extra cash to make your passage trouble free for a safe and quick darshan.
During Angarika Chaturthi, more than 12 lakh devotees visit the temple and unless you possess a VIP pass, one could end up standing in the scorching sun all day long as the queue for general public only moves on at a snails pace.
The popular shrine of Lord Balaji is one of the most popular pilgrim destinations in the country visited by Hindus from all over the world.
Considering the large rush of pilgrims (around 60,000 per day usually) visiting the temple, it requires high contacts and money to have access to the Deity’s durbar and pay darshan to it. Even for paid VIP darshans, access to one minute presence before the deity can be done during the VIP Darshan break.
Much to the amusement of have not’s the VIP tickets are divided into three levels 1, 2 and general and the ticket price varies from Rs 50 to Rs 300 which provides access to the main portion of the shrine. Besides the revenues from VIP visits, the daily pilgrim offering of the temple boasts of a hefty collection of Rs 3 crore.
Now this is some serious money in a cash strapped country.