Blind faith drives many to do the impossible. Faith has nothing to do with logic. India has thousands of examples to elucidate that.
If you need further proof, just look at how thousands of devotees buy stamped paper, hire lawyers to draft their petitions and then go and pin it up in the Chitai Golu Devta Temple premises which is about eight kilometres from Almora in Uttaranchal. This has been going on since 1638, when the temple was built.
Devotees feel that they will get justice if they follow the ritual. Locals say that with every passing year, the crowds are getting bigger as the folklore spreads that the deity loves to deliver justice.
If their wishes are fulfilled, they return to take back their petitions and string a brass bell in gratitude. The fact that there are thousands of those bells there, tinkling away in the breeze, lend a lyrical quality to the place.
One recent petition, believe it or not, was from a judge praying for elevation to the Supreme Court. When it fructified, he went back, removed his petition and hung up a brass bell in gratitude.
The petitions spell out the grievances in meticulous detail, complete with figures, addresses, names and even phone numbers. They eloquently display the deep faith petitioners have in getting their grievances addressed. Petitioners come from various parts of the country including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and of course, Uttarakhand. There was one who came all the way from distant Kerala. Clearly, faith reigns.
From jobs to family matters
The pleas are varied. Many of the petitions hanging around are actual petitions rejected by courts. Some are pleas urging the deity to give them quick relief from some tribulation and deliver justice. A lover wants to be united with his sweetheart despite opposition from parents; a girl wants to do well in an examination; a young man wants a job; someone pleads for peace at home; another wants freedom from an alcoholic husband or even a cure for a serious illness.
Some are personal letters addressed to Golu Devta pleading for a “job with a good designation.” The devotee offers a donation of Rs. 100 if the wish is fulfilled. Another letter requests that her son should thrive in his legal practice and adds as an afterthought that he should give up alcohol. On a Rs. 100 stamp paper, Manju prays that Arun Sharma, her younger brother, should get a share in the family property and all brothers should live peacefully. On a Rs. 10 stamped paper, a father mentions how his family was destroyed when his son Gaurav married Sanjana and prays that the court should quickly grant them divorce.
Real estate magnate Ponty Chadha, who was killed last year in a shootout in Delhi, was one of the many who had filed a petition at the temple asking for full mining rights in Uttaranchal. As soon as he got it, he went back to string a brass bell and take back his petition. Bhojpuri film actor and singer Manoj Tiwari also hung a bell there, after he became a member of parliament. A newspaper reporter, too, has a bell in his name, hung after he found a job. Film maker Raj Kumar Santoshi has also been to the temple.
One devotee attached photographs of his relatives involved in a court case praying for divine intervention when the court hears a case on 27 August 2014. The writer alleges that his sister-in-law made his life miserable, forcing him to sell off ancestral property: “We have become like the living dead. Either bail us out of trouble or end our life. You are the only one who can give us justice.”