Mysuru: What has Chamundeshwari Temple atop Chamundi Hill got to do with sandals? If one says that there is no relation between the temple and footwear, he/ she might be wrong as hundreds of pairs of footwear are discarded at the temple by devotees who come there to pray, making it a gargantuan task for the people who clean the temple.
Thousands of devotees visit the temple and the crowd just multiplies during festival seasons and Ashada Shukravaras. These crowds stand in separate queues for hours together to have darshan of the Goddess and before entering the queue system, they leave their footwear outside. Though there are designated places for devotees to keep their slippers by making a small payment, most of the devotees prefer to leave the footwear wherever they find it suitable. And some leave them on the steps leading to the temple. Unfortunately, some devotees do not take away their footwear after darshan.
Discarded footwear waste accumulate at the Temple during rush days, especially the four Ashada Shukravaras and Chamundeshwari Vardhanti. Incidentally, tomorrow is the last Ashada Friday and more than 30,000 devotees are expected to throng the Hill Temple.
While there is a concentration of discarded slippers at the top of the temple, heaps of footwear are also found at the beginning of the 1,108 steps where the devotees leave their footwear before ascending the steps.
Sumasree, a full-time yoga practitioner and a resident of Bengaluru brought this “slipper menace” to the notice of Star of Mysore. She says, “During my trip to Mysuru last week, I climbed the Chamundi Hill for five days – three days before the last Ashada Shukravara. During the climbs I noticed that the Hill was full of plastic bottles, slippers and other waste. As seva, I started picking up the trash on my way down every day.”
“I was surprised to see people leaving behind good pairs of slippers and some of them just needed minor repairs. They were discarded all over the steps, near the Dasoha Bhavan and other places,” she said. She added that the concept of ‘repair’ and reuse have slowly vanished from the minds of the people.
In one day, she managed to pick two bags full of slippers and she photographed it after re-arranging them in an orderly manner. Out of the over 100 slippers I collected, over 30 of them were pairs. “After collecting the slippers in gunny bags, I did not know where to deposit them. One Pourakarmika told me that a garbage van will come to the base of the temple and I could leave the gunny bags for the garbage van to collect,” she said.
“I request all the pilgrims to stop throwing waste all over the Hill. Chamundi Betta is the pride of Mysuru and it is our responsibility to keep it clean and green,” she added.
After the festivities are over, the Chamundi Temple Committee and the Chamundi Village Panchayat take up the task of cleaning the temple premises. Every festive season, it is a massive and a labour-intensive task for the Panchayat and the committee as they have to employ outside labour.
“While food waste can be cleaned or dumped in landfills as they decay fast. The problem is with the plastic and slipper. We can neither keep them nor dispose them of as they are environmentally harmful. Devotees must stop being irresponsible and take the onus of preserving the sanctity and holiness of the Temple,” a temple official said.