Do Pilgrims deserve Pilgrimage

Simran Jain

God created this world beautifully, but we destroyed it. When people used to visit Religious places they used to see the natural beauty overloading the places as they were situated at higher altitudes on the mountains. Pilgrimage traffic has a widespread reach in India from north to south to centers in Vaishno Devi, Prayag, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kedar-Badri to Rameshwaram, Tirupati and from the west to east, Amba Devi to Kamakhya Devi to name a few. As time passed, so did the beauty of these places. For development purposes, mountains have been cut and trees fell which has disturbed the ecological balance. But with all such changes, with all this modernization, the question arises if our religious sentiments have become modern?

When one visits such religious destinations, they come across various facilities for the pilgrims, from snacks to packed juices, from ponies’ ride to helicopter services. These all have been made to ease the yatra of the pilgrims. But we human have this unique ability to leave our traces; traces in the sense “garbage”, despite all the cleanliness campaigns and missions, we find garbage at every point.

Recently I went to Vaishno Devi; walking for about a kilometre we came across this place called Baan Ganga where pilgrims go and watch the serenity of nature as water from the mountains flow here. As the story goes on Mata saw a veer langur here while crossing the area. As the langur was too much thirsty and it was a barren land she could understand its thrust. She shot an arrow with too much force and a fountain of water came out from the land that has later took the shape of a river. It was a small fountain then but became a full-fledged river named Ban Ganga and is still famous in the country.

There are several interesting stories about this river , the myth goes that Mata would have washed her hair in it so is it considered pure in many aspects. But when I went there, I saw something that as a pilgrim I can’t imagine, but as an ordinary fellow that was a common thing. There were wrappers of wafers, empty bottles, peels of fruits and plastic poly bags. And the most amazing fact was people were clicking selfies thinking that they are capturing the natural beauty. Unaware that it is not the holiness of the place which has been captured with them, but the ugliness of our traces.

Why are we forgetting that we are the one damaging such serenities? And just for satiating our whims, why do we not see the greater harm we are causing. We tend to think that we are going to those places after a long time so if they throw a little bit of garbage or do not take care of such places then nothing will happen. But it is always the small pieces that make the big picture. There is a saturation point of everything. Similarly, these places have saturation point which results in landslides or any of the mishap as we witnessed in Kedarnath.

At the end, we all have to think do we want to go to these places for worshipping or just for harming the nature. To sustain these places tourism has to be planned, managed and undertaken in a way which is socially beneficial and economical viable.



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