Naina Devi Temple Tragedy – one more addition to the long list of Temple Stampedes



In a temple tragedy on Sunday at the famous Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur District of Himachal Pradesh more than 145 pilgrims have died in a stampede triggered by rumors of a landslide.

Himachal Pradesh officials confirm that at least 145 devotees have died, majority of those dead were children and women. Many more have been injured in the incident.

In spite of heavy rains, an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 pilgrims had gathered at the popular Naina Devi Temple on Punjab – Himachal Pradesh border to offer prayers on the occasion of Sawan Navratri, a nine-day religious festival involving fasting dedicated to Goddess Durga. Shravan month (July – August) is considered highly auspicious throughout North India and millions of Hindus visit various Hindu shrines.

Temples in India have witnessed numerous stampedes, the very latest during Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra, when 8 were killed, and most worst in recent history in 2005, about 265 pilgrims were killed at a stampede near Wai Temple in Maharashtra.

Government, politicians and public react to such incidents with usual statements and immediately forget about it.

Stampede happens again and again and finally we find an easy excuse - insufficient security to control crowds often causes stampedes and deaths.

One life or hundreds of lives lost, we all are responsible for tolerating the lackluster attitude of temple authorities of some of the most famous shrines in India, which attract thousands of people during festivals and other auspicious days.

Money is never a problem for the popular shrines in India but the problem is in the attitude of temple authorities – the appalling apathy shown towards poor pilgrims.

At this moment we can only pray for those that lost their precious lives and family members in the tragedy at Naina Devi Temple.

But we need to wake up and do something for the numerous stampedes that are in the waiting?