Time to maintain City Temples

Dr Kapil K Sharma
Jammu  is one of the oldest cities of Northern India.      A city which has preserved its ancient values and  culture even today.  It is  really sad to mention that Jammu – the City of Temples is really struggling to maintain this tag. Leave apart few famous temples which are tourist attractions like Raghunath Mandir, Bawe Wali Mata, Mahamaya Temple, Peer Kho, etc rest of the temples have lost their glory.
Some of them are carrying such histories that one can do full PhD thesis on them. These ancient temples are our heritage and neglecting them means severing our own roots. It’s not that no body is bothered about them. We all feel deeply hurt when we see the condition of these temples but the fact is  that nobody knows what to do. The only organisation which is supposed to take care of these temples and is taking care of this religious heritage is Dharamarth Trust founded by erstwhile  rulers of J&K. But I feel their  resources are limited. I am sure they are doing their best but lot is to be done.
Whether Sanatan Dharam Sabha has any role in upkeeping of these temples I am not very sure. It is not wise to criticise Government for every shortcoming. We the citizens must come forward to contribute a bit. Contribution means just not cash and kind but also devoting time which has become a scarcity these days. If we are not able to do that then we ourselves are to be blamed for loss of values and culture. I have a list of temples which need immediate attention.If I disclose the names and location of these temples then it may harm the livelihood of few pujaries who are taking care of these temples.When I talked to them I realised it’s not their fault. These poor chaps are managing the show purely on basis of donations or chadtal in local language. As these temples are in poor shape so hardly anyone visits these temples. All the more these poor guys fully depend on this chadtal even for their two end meals.
If you want to analyse the situation yourself just take a round of Circular road and visit all the temples falling on the way. After  Circular Road move left towards old Jammu city via Panjtirhi and visit old temples situated at Pakki Chakki, Jullahka Mohalle. Dhakki Sarajja, Mast Garh etc. Whole of the  Jammu city is having numerous temples. Believe me most of them are centuries old and all are symbols of rich Hindu and Dogra values.
how to accomplish our goal.
* I feel all the well -to-do families of Jammu celebrate  at least three occasions in a year. Birthdays of the children and marriage anniversary. On these occasions every middle class Jammuite spends money happily. What if we start celebrating at least one occasion at one of these temples with religious fervour. Rest two occasions, we can celebrate with modern drills. That way we will be able to contribute towards that temple and kids will also learn something about their religious roots.
* We all have biradaries and local deity( Kul Devta). Thank God, at least the tradition of MAIL ( annual or bi annual assembly of the people of same clan) is still alive. People do attend their MAIL with devotion. If all the biradaries decides to embrace at least one temple out of these temples, I think we can achieve the target.
* All of us are contributing towards Swachh Bharat (clean India) as Govt. of India has imposed cess towards the same. If we all put representation and request Government to pay a regular attention towards cleanliness  in these temples, It will be a tremendous help.
* While visiting these temples I noticed the blue notice boards of Tourism Department. It means they are falling under the ambit of Tourism Department as well. If so  we can request tourism ministry as well to pay more attention. I think if Tourism Department forms the committee involving the local public, It will be great.
It may be mentioned here that Diwan Mandir at Pacca Danga is hosting one of the oldest working auditoriums of India called Diwan Mandir Sanatan Dharam Natak Samaj. This auditorium has the unique privilege of producing artists like K.L Sehgal and Om Prakash. Both these legends are sons of the soil. Om Prakash has admitted at so many junctures that he began his acting career by playing the character of Sita at Ram Lila of Diwan Mandir. Even great Prithvi Raj Kapur has performed at Diwan Mandir. Ram Lila is still a regular feature of this auditorium till date.
There can be so many other things we can do. But let’s take one step at a time. I have seen advanced countries like Japan, USA, Finland etc. spending billions of dollars to preserve their identity. They take their kids regularly to their native places and live there for few days exactly the way their ancestors used to live. Can’t we take our kids to an old neglected temple at least once a month. If we fail to do so then we and only we are to be blamed for loss of culture and identity.


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