The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Aditya Bhola ,MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
The horrific disaster at the Puttingal Devi temple in Kerala’s Kollam district has extracted a terrible toll – some 120 dead at last count, and over 350 people injured, many in critical condition. Despite widespread speculation as to the causes of the tragedy, we don’t really know what happened, with some claiming it was a simple accident. Although it seems that the Hindu religion is more of a private affair but over a period of time they started to compete with other religions in demonstration of their piety. Almost everywhere now, temples blare out high-decibel music in the forms of bhajans, shlokas and lectures, very often at highly unsocial hours, as if one is somehow rendered holier by waking to the raucous screech of devotional songs at the crack of dawn or even earlier. Where most Hindus went to the temple to be alone with their favourite deity, today attendance is highest when the temple is the site of some public spectacle, ranging from assorted processions and rituals to the fireworks display that ignited the tragedy at the Puttingal Devi temple. Is this really necessary? I have never been a great fan of fireworks because of the dangerous way in which ordinary people handle them, and the wide array of burns, singes and unintended explosions that seem to occur every time they are used, even at Diwali. But I am utterly puzzled by their role in temples. What on earth does a sparkler or a rocket have to do with a human being’s worship of her Maker? If temples feel they have to dazzle the faithful by fireworks to retain their belief in God, then our religion has indeed come to a sorry pass. By all means Fireworks on specific occasions in an organized manner is acceptable but the kind of fireworks at Kollam is nothing but a means to satisfy self ego which is against the very principle of Hinduism.