Faith can do wonders. From an unknown temple, the Balaji temple at Chilkur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad has become famous as the “visa temple” and is attracting youngsters with an urge to fly to greener pastures abroad.
The sudden fame thrust on Lord Venkateswara as the new incarnation of ‘Visa God’ has spread far and wide and such is the power of faith that 80 per cent of visitors to the temple are youth. On an average, 8000-10,000 students visit the temple in the hope of securing the elusive but highly sought-after US visa. On their first visit, the hopefuls have to do 11 pradikshanas (rounds); after the visa, they have to return to do 108 pradikshanas.
On an average, daily 500 youngsters fulfil their vow. There has been no impact of the global recession especially in the US on the number of students who come to the temple praying for visa, according to M V Sounderrajan, chief priest at the temple and a former professor in Osmania University.
A firm opponent of the commercialisation of worship in temples, Sounderrajan tries to downplay the ‘Visa God’ status, saying Balaji grants many other wishes too and not just visas.
R Akhileshwari, Deccan Herald, March 1, 2009,