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KANWAR YATRA: SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OR RUCKUS ON ROADS?




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Today, when I came out to meet my friend, on an autorickshaw to drop me at Indraprastha metro in East Delhi.  It took us 40 minutes to reach the destination, which was just 2 km from Maharani Bagh. Reason was not the traffic on Ring Road but Kaanwariyas crossing the roads. Autorickshaw driver told me that it’s happening from last ten days from the date Kanwar Yatra has started.

Although s eparate service lanes are cut out for Kanwariyas,  which has narrowed the road width there by slowing down the traffic. It is to be noted that the Kanwariyas were assigned a designated service lane for movement. But since it got choked with heavy traffic, the vehicle movement on the main road too gets affected.

“There is nothing one can do. The Kanwariyas have the permission to pass through the highways and we have to allow them to cross the road at the junctions. Therefore, the traffic will have to be stopped,”said a traffic in-charge near Indraprastha. “This is bound to continue till August 12 (Shivratri),” he said.

What is Kanwar Yatra?
I recalled my school days in my hometown. The holy month of Hindu calendar Shrawan ( mid July-mid August), saffron-clad kanwariyas from northern states walking up to Haridwar bare foot. Kanwariyas leaves for the reknowned temple of shiv near the Ganges a week or 10 days before Shivratri every year. After offering Jalabhishek they reach Haridwar/Varanasi to collect water from the Ganges to offer to Lord Vishwanath. Kanwariyas move in groups. Their love for Lord Shiva is through loud music and hash which is accessible to them easily on their journey. There are a number of rest-stops made on their journey by government and independent organizations which provide them free food and place to stay.

Rowdyism on roads
The rule for kanwariyas is that throughout their journey no vehicle, pedestrian should touch them.They have to take main road as there are no service lanes on Delhi-Haridwar highway. No-one should stop their loud music or ask them to stop smoking hash publically otherwise they can pelt stones and damage your vehicles.
Is this a way to offer prayers to Lord Shiva? Is this a spiritual journey or just an excuse to come out of your routine and create ruckus with alcohol, hash and loud music?

Slowing down traffic
Traffic becomes a serious problem during k anwar yatra which happens every year during this month. Recently, on Monday the problem started at around 8 am on Delhi-Gurgaon expressway when the traffic was made to  stop for a while  to allow the kanwariyas to cross the roads. The halt of a few minutes at every junction on the expressway led to long tailbacks of vehicles. The heavy rush of the peak hours couldn’t sustain the slow pace and the expressway started reporting the jams by8.30am. Constant drizzle leading to waterlogging added to the problem.

The Police administration  fail to manage the kanwariyas or manage the rush  as it is largely sheltered by local political parties. The plight of the common people, as always is the last thing on the minds of people. Traffic department should chalk out a plan at least a month before kanwar yatra begins. Since it is a regular yearly affair, we can at least be prepared in managing the spiritual journey of the kanwariyas  and the office goers a peaceful one.

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