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Fairs, Festivals and Melas

          Lakhs of Devotees Throng Jodhpur Parshuram Mela
(Sunday, August 18, 2002)

           JODHPUR: Despite the drought-like situation in Rajasthan, people are converging in large numbers on the Bhagwan Parshuram Mahadev mela. The mela is organised every year at the suburb of Pali district. It is said that Bhagwan Parshuram used to worship at this place located in the serene surroundings in the foothills of a local mountain range, at a height of 4000 feet above sea-level.

           According to Hindu mythology, this is the only place in the country where Lord Parshuram offered his prayers. During August-September, around five lakh devotees throng the mela. People continue to visit the area round the year. According to an estimate, around eight-nine lakh people visit the holy place every year.

          Though the mela has gained prominence over the past few years, the government has provided little facilities for the devotees. All the arrangements are done by the three local charitable trusts. Amar Ganga Charitable Trust has been arranging food and lodging facilities for the past 25 years. The trust also organises 'Sangeet Sandhya' every evening where local artists sing devotional songs.Thanks to the efforts of the trust the devotees get food for Rs 2 and tea for 50 paise only.

          General secretary of the trust Sudush Rawal said, "I has been because of our efforts that tourism has picked up in the region. We work on a no-profit-no-loss basis, we believe in serving the devotees who come from far-flung areas".

Jetu Singh, one of the devotees who came from Tapur, a village in the interiors of Jodhpur, said, "There is no work for us. So I came here to ask for help. The drought has destroyed everything, there is no food, no work, we don't know what to do. The situation is very bad. But I am sure the Lord will help".

          Suresh Rawal, a social worker and local journalist, told ANI, "About 5-6 lakh pilgrims visit this mela in the month of Shrawan alone because this is the month of 'Mahadev' or Lord Shiva. A total of 8-9 lakh pilgrims visit the place every year. There are three separate trusts which look after the food and lodging of the pilgrims and the maintenance of the cave and temple." Rawal said.

           "The cave has naturally made figures of Lord Ganesh and Lord Shiva and also has nine Kunds which never go dry." Transporters and other businessmen who make huge profits in the mela season, however, do feel the effect of drought and say that though pilgrims are pouring in the rush is comparatively less.

           Rajasthan Roadways Assistant Director Madan Singh Rajpurohit said: "We have registered a loss of Rs 25,000 till now. There are lots of pilgrims pouring in, but the drought has taken its toll and the number is less than what we usually see".


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