BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
It is 12.30 pm and Anita is at the entrance of the Birla Radha Krishna Mandir at BITS Pilani. “The temple opens at 6 am and closes at 12 pm. It then opens at 3 pm and closes at 10 pm,” informs the security guard.
With no option, Anita, her sister and her ten-year-old granddaughter walk a couple of kilometres to the closest restaurant that serves lunch. They walk back in the hot sun and are the first to enter the temple at 3 pm.
“We have come all the way from Bambolim to worship in this new temple and were not aware of the timings.
The fault is ours. It was tiring to go for lunch and come back, but we are not complaining. We came to meet God,” says Anita, as the family marvels at the interiors of the mandir.
The Birla temple is not big, but it is welcoming. Right from the ring where the security allows vehicles to enter, the space is welcoming with an aura of goodness, reinforcing the belief that God is one and religions are many.
Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs – and perhaps even more – have started visiting the temple which complements the surroundings of the BITS Pilani educational complex established by Birla.
“We normally frequent the temple of our deity at home, but I have come to see and pray here because there has been so much said about this temple that has just been opened to the public. It looks beautiful now, and I can imagine what it will be at night,” says Vaishnavi, who has come along with her family.
“This temple houses Radha Krishna, Ganesh, Hanuman and Ramdarbar. We are three pujaris that have been entrusted with the rituals of the temple. Two of us are from Pune and one is from Jodhpur,” states one of the pujaris as he is about to begin distributing prasad to the devotees.
“We undergo training for six years before being appointed pujaris, and we have been appointed by Birla for one year,” added the pujari.
“We will be celebrating the feasts of each of these Gods, and celebration would mean special devotions to the individual Gods. And surely, the temple will be lit in a different manner during each feast,” disclosed the pujari.
The Birla temple is one of the few in Goa that has all provisions that give access to people with disabilities.
“Today is my first day at work, and I am, therefore, unable to tell you the footfall. But as you can see, it’s just passed 3 and the crowds are swelling,” stated a security guard of the temple.
“The place gives a special feel to the entire area at night. If you pass by this highway at night, you will doubt that you are in Goa,” says 74-year-old Sagun as he prepares to leave the place with his family.
The Radha Krishna Temple has added serenity to the landscape of BITS Pilani, and as the devotees venerate the Gods, many will be praying for peace within, with blessings from the Gods of the temple.