Controlling a small crowd is a big challenge for administrators. And when lakhs congregate, it is a nightmare for those in charge.
Every year, there is an unprecedented rush at Tirupati, Sabarimala, Srirangam (near Tiruchi) and Parthasarathy Temple (Chennai) around New Year. This year was no exception. A gentleman asked in Tamil, “ idhu bayama, bhakthiya ?” (is this fear or faith?).
On the occasion of Vaikunta Ekadasi, there was a huge crowd at the Parthsarathy Temple. Though the cops did their best, they were helpless as the the number of people at the temple surged throughout the day and often became restless as the waiting period stretched to three to four hours. Even at around mid-night, people were still seen waiting in a long queue to have darshan.
In Srirangam, the foremost of the main Vaishnavite temples, it was a long, serpentine queue. For 10 days starting Vaikunta Ekadasi, devotees from all over India throng this temple.
This year, nearly 3,000 cops were deputed to manage the crowd. The huge number of police didn't help much though.
There was no proper guidance to enter the temple. Access to the special darshans was a nightmare to people. One needed to find every trick, including tipping security persons, to find a way into the temple.
“What can we do sir? Observe for five minutes and see for yourself how impatient people are. We need to take care of politicians, government officials, high officials, including cops, and of course ordinary people,” said an official of the Ranganathar Temple.
After all the jostling, it was still bliss (at least for me) to have a 10-second darshan of the Lord.