Statesman News Service
BHOPAL, Jan. 30. — In the Ramayana, Bharat had gone to Panchwati to procure Lord Rama’s charan paduka (footwear). Mr Sanjay Parashar of Sagar went to Ayodhya a fortnight ago to procure his goddess’ charan paduka. The goddess: Miss Uma Bharati.
The comparison may seem weird and even blasphemous, to an extent, but it seems to keep the sadhvi and her devotee in good humour. At best, it may be a consolation prize for her summary expulsion from the BJP.
Mr Parashar, a laboratory technician at the seed certification department in Bhopal, sees nothing wrong with his hero worship.
For the Parashar family, Miss Bharati achieved godly status after she reinstated over 20,000 daily wagers terminated by her predecessor, Mr Digvijay Singh.
Mr Parashar, one such beneficiary, first tried to show his appreciation by singing paeans to the sadhvi; he composed an “Uma chalisa (a set of 40 quadruplets).
As if this were not enough, the Parashar family constructed Temple Uma at Bamhouri village next.
Devotee Parashar followed Miss Bharati through her recently concluded Ramroti Yatra to Ayodhya with the thought of the charan paduka of Lord Rama on his mind.
An amused Miss Bharati agreed to see Mr Parashar. Initially, she had been uncomfortable with the idea of her charan paduka being worshiped at a temple. But finally, the “goddess” was “pleased” to dispense with her plastic footwear, slightly worn out after the yatra.
Mr Parashar said: “Let people call it whatever they like, I have every right to pay my respects to Umaji in whatever manner I see fit.”
Madhya Pradesh has a long tradition of extreme hero worship. First, a temple was built after Indira Gandhi at Khargone to honour stree shakti in the 1970s. In 2003, Akhil Bhartiya Yuva Abhibhasak Manch, an independent organisation working for the development of Hindi, constructed a temple after Mr Vajpayee at Gwalior.
Mrs Asha Rani, mother of Mr Sanjay Parashar, has taken the lead for construction of the temple. She said: “It is a matter of our shradha (respect) for her.”
The 40-member joint family, which survives by doing petty work and farming on a small piece of land, has not sought any monetary help for the temple construction.
Mrs Rani said they had not sought permission from Miss Bharati before constructing the temple. Members of family have taken the task of temple construction upon themselves and have brought it to the plinth-level.