This was something which took place during our recent trip to ambaji and after years left a bad taste to the otherwise lovely trip.

Having already had a darshan the previous evening, as is our wont, we went up for Darshan the next morning before starting our way back to Baroda.

The last couple of years, there has been tightening of security & being well aware of the rules, we always leave behind purse, mobiles & chappels either at the hotel or in the car.

But the attitude of the SRP who man the entry points leave a lot to be desired. All of them were standing together & chatting, sharing the news that Anuradha Paudwal had come for darshan that day.

Having lived in Juhu, Lokhandwala, where celebrities are common place, it did not excite us too much.

Reaching inside, standing in the Q for darshan, the security kept pushing us to go quickly. In the meantime, I noticed that there were couple of males wearing regular clothes in the inner area, where they are not allowed. So I politely enquired with the security person about it, who told me to mind my own business. Now this said gentleman was not wearing his badge, complete uniform & showing attitude, raised my hackles.

I went to the temple inspector’s office enquiring about him and was told he was on his rounds. After 15 minutes, asked again and requested that he be paged down; hearing this a gentleman carrying a sten gun came and asked “what was the problem”  Upon being questioned repeatedly, he said that it would be some time etc.

Finally, Amrutbhai the said temple inspector came escorting Anuradha Paudwal into his cabin. Exchange of telephone numbers, cards were taking place, with the so called security head & Pandit trying to hold me back.

Then Anuradha Paudwal stepped out, seeing me she wished ‘Jai Mata di’; reciprocating the same, I enquired politely with her:

  • As celebrity why was she carrying her large leather bag, cell phone etc. inside the mandir?
  • As celebrity why was she using the cell phone to call up people inside the mandir?

To all of this she had no answer & she quietly slunk away.

Then Amrutbhai started his questioning:

  • Who are you?
  • Who sent you?
  • What do you want?
  • Do you want to go inside for darshan? etc. etc.

On my questions he had no or feeble answers…..

  • Who were the men in the temple wearing terrycot trousers & shirts (They are the staff of the temple) Great but does it mean that they do not follow rules (Actually they were late for shift) So do they not get paid today (Silence)
  • Why was the celebrity allowed to carry her leather bag & cell phone (Do you want to do darshan from inside, who has really sent you, what do you want etc. etc.)
  • Narendra Modi claims that such things do not happen in his gujarat (What has he got to do with this? I have been here 3 years:)) AND I have been going there for the past 30 years at least once a year sometimes twice.

Anyway the end result was, he apologised & said it would not happen again blah….blah…

I know it for a fact, that it would happen again because:

  • His job depends on it
  • Nobody has the courage to point it out to him on a regular basis
  • Temple board is controlled by a IAS officer, who thinks it as  probably a punishment posting???
  • Most people would jump on the offer to do the darshan close enough & forget about it.

However, my mind was at peace, that I had stood up for what I believed. All of us have to start somewhere.