Blind faith

Few days back, I visited Lord Shani temple at Shani shingnapur. Shani shingnapur is a small village close to Nashik which has a huge temple of Lord Shani. Thousands of devotees flock to this temple in good faith and offer their prayers.
After parking our car we alighted and  were guided to a puja shop courtesy of a ‘kind soul’ who helped all tourists. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the shopkeeper there turned out to be this kind soul’s confidante. But that’s not the point here. 
Just to follow the customs of the place, we bought a Puja thali worth Rs 150/-.  How the shopkeeper tried to exhort money from us is another story and I’ll leave it for some other day. Suffice it to say that I was totally disturbed by the commercialisation in a place which people revere as an abode of God; these people were openly duping innocent tourists by toying with their sentiments and inciting fear of God. 
When we entered the temple, the first thing that struck me was that most people (including us)didn’t really know what to do. So just like the others, we first laid down the coconut at the entrance. Next we poured oil in the designated area which is then pumped via an elaborate mechanism on the idol of the deity thus ensuring a continuous flow of oil. I cannot even imagine how many litres of edible oil is wasted due to this practice.
Finally we offered the “prasad” packet (containing flattened rice and sweet til gul) at the feet of the deity just like others.  After a while a huge pile of these “prasad” packets were accumulated at the feet of the deity. To my utmost horror, the security guard just swept all these away and trashed them!!!
My first thought was , Was this man insane to do something so preposterous? But then I realised that he must be just following instructions from authorities but just imagine the audacity of issuing such instructions.
In India, lakhs of people go hungry, have no food to eat and these people have the nerve to just trash food that could have been fed to many hungry mouths.
I instantly realised the folly of what I was doing and was totally ashamed of myself for indulging in such blind faith.The authorities were not the only ones to blame , people like me were equally part of the crime. Instead of wasting Rs 150/- on the puja thali,  had I offered the same to a poor hungry soul wouldn’t my money have been put to better use? Most certainly !!
I have now resolved that never again will I waste money/food items in the name of God. I am not an atheist and neither am I against God. 
But my personal belief is that such unwarranted external exhibition of piousness is uncalled for.And this blind devotion has reaffirmed my beliefs. God doesn’t need our flowers, oil, coconut or our money for that matter. Just joining hands and offering a sincere prayer is enough.
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