Dear Mindful Lifers,
I just arrived home tonight from Tamil Nadu, India. For the past 2 weeks I was on pilgrimage with Douglas Brooks visiting 16 temples throughout South India, including the great Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. The Hindu religion is the key focus of the vast majority of the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, who are very sweet and good-hearted, yet very poor.
Yesterday in Kochi, India on the west coast in Kerala, 150,000 pilgrims converged for the end of a religious festival. This number of people certainly overwhelmed the size of the small town, the temple and the 2,000 police present.
A stampede killed over 100 people, and many more are injured.
My heart goes out to all of South India and beyond tonight. Last Saturday I witnessed thousands of pilgrims walking barefooted in dhotis and saris, for tens of miles on the hot asphalt to have a brief, but powerful darshan in the Muruga temple in Palani, Tamil Nadu, just a 150 mile drive from Kochi. I walked with Douglas and some other North American yoga pilgrims to the temple at the top of the 670 steps in Palani for the noon darshan. The estimated crowd on Saturday in Palani was 50,000, manageable for the temple, yet 2 hour long queues to get near the center of the temple were common.
Since stampedes have become a serious issue in India due to the tremendous number of pilgrims converging on a small temple and town on a particular astronomical date, many temples have now converted the entries into metal gates and fences restricting the pilgrims into tight and packed single lines. Although security measures are being increasingly applied in the South Indian temples, the numbers of deeply devotional pilgrims are simply overwhelming the temples’ capacity many times, these days. The inner sanctums of these temples are fixed in size, yet the 100 million South Indian population is growing steadily. So, sadly, these religious days—considered particularly auspicious—are tragically becoming more terrible and deadly.
May Love fill the hearts of the good people of South India to comfort their terrible suffering. May Light bring the clarity of sight to all people to see the sacredness of this shimmering web of Life that we are all a part of it.