Temples have a special significance in the life of many Indians. Remember the good ol’ days when we would desperately pray in the temple to get good grades, good jobs, better lives and so on? We always had an endless list of requests to present before the Almighty.
But as we grew older many of us realised that one improves one’s life more than the Almighty does. And that only with this realisation can we lead better lives. But even then, we do find ourselves visiting the temple for some peace of mind. A temple offers us that space of good and positive energy and helps us rejuvenate ourselves and get ready for whatever tomorrow holds.
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These temples offer us a space where we can be at peace and solace. Each of these beautiful and magnificent temples has its own style of architecture, reflecting the essence of its presiding deity. Being from Thrissur, I have personally seen and visited many beautiful temples where you forget all your worries and are just at peace with the Universe. And while I have a list of places that I need to visit to satisfy the photographer in me, there is a separate list for temples; because temples in India vary from state to state and each one is different and unique.
One such unique temple is the Madurai Meenakshi temple in the city of Madurai.
I have been visiting the Madurai Meenakshi temple with my family ever since I was a child so I have seen the temple at different stages of my life. Even though time passed by swiftly and many things changed around the temple, the one thing that did not change was the vendors and other dwellers in front of the temple and the adjoining streets.
When I was a child I was interested in the things they offered for sale. But as I grew older I got more interested in learning about them and knowing more about their lives. And I grew up so did the photographer in me and I was looking forward to taking some pictures of them. But since I travelled with family, I was unable to do so.
As luck would have it, I had a work-related meeting scheduled in Madurai and I was travelling alone this time. I was pretty sure that I would be able to take pictures to my heart’s content.
As soon as the meeting got over, I rushed to the hotel to grab my gear and rushed back to the temple premises. I was extremely excited because I would finally be able to click the pictures I wanted to for so long. I could not hide my excitement and it was clearly written all over my face as to how happy I was. I went around the temple clicking pictures of the temple dwellers.
One lady who noticed me taking pictures told me, “You people take pictures, sell them and make money and forget about us”. I did buy some flowers from her for the temple but what she told me has stayed with me because it’s a bitter truth.
Even as all the temple goers grew older and settled in different walks of life, these vendors and other temple dwellers continue working hard to meet their day to day expenses. They are not bothered by a savings account or other financial instruments for they are more concerned about how they’ll make enough to get through the next day.
Even though we willingly offer money and gold and everything we have to the temple, we hardly give anything to these people outside the temples. If not in the form of money then in some other way, create some other opportunities for them, for their growth. I think it’s time that we stopped praying for ourselves or at least pause for a minute, and do something to improve the basic living conditions of these people.