Out of sight and soon out of mind

Shanker Anand Bharti Temple loses hold on Hindus as they aren't safe worshipping there.

Sarfaraz Memon October 18, 2010

SUKKUR: Sheva Mandli Shanker Anand Bharti Temple in Shikarpur has lost its hold on Hindus, not just because it lies on the outskirts of the city but also because they aren’t safe worshipping there.

Vested with over 250 years of heritage, the temple hardly ever sees visitors and since earnings have gone down considerably, its list of repairs has grown.

The elderly caretaker, Gopal Das, says that he has been serving at the temple for the past five years, ever since his father, Mohan Das, passed away. “Very few people visit this temple because it is situated in a deserted place and has no security,” Gopal Das explains.

“Hindus from Shikarpur and other cities prefer to visit other temples in the middle of the city,” he says. “Earlier, there was a police check-post near the temple, where three policemen were deployed at all times, and people used to come frequently even after sunset.” But since the check-post was removed the law and order situation has worsened. According to Sheva Mandli president Chander Lal, however, the girder, hand pumps and the ceiling of the check-post were stolen once the policemen were removed.

“Even though no robberies or thefts have taken place in the temple so far, people are still cautious,” Gopal Das says. It is not as bad as Jacobabad, where dozens of Hindu men and women were robbed by armed bandits in a temple. Now people come here on Fridays and Sundays only.

Shanti Bai and her family are the only visitors to the temple today. “We don’t come here often because of security reasons,” she says.

Meanwhile, DSP Shikarpur City Mir Ahmed Chandio says that he does not know if there is a check-post in the area. “If there were any check-post, it might have been removed before my tenure,” he said, adding that his department has deployed two policemen at the temple.

The temple is built over a huge area, with a main hall for worship, also known as Samadhi, a separate place for Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book for Sikhs), a place of worship for Shiv Ling, where Shiv Shankar is worshiped for 40 days and nights, according to Hindu mythology.

In one big room many Samadhis stand. Many Hindu saints, including Sultanand Maharaj and Kishan Maharaj, are buried here.

Another room is reserved for the Path of Granth Sahib, where Hindus sit and recite the holy book. There is a small room with a marble arch, where an earthen lamp, known as Lal Sain’s Jot [light of Lal Sain] is lit and, according to Gopal Das, is kept lit round the clock. It is his duty to keep pouring oil into it. Das insisted that any prayers offered in front of the lamp are always answered.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2010.


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