Vaishno devi : An unusual place for secularism

One of the most revered and pious place for Hindu followers is Vaishno devi. Millions of staunch believers of god vaishnavi visit this sacred place. Situated at around 6000 ft the place remains busy throughout the year. India being a country with diverse ethnicity respects and accommodates every religion. So a holy place for Hinduism does not keep it aloof from the secularism. Beleive it or not 40% of people in vaishno devi are Muslims.

This is where things begin to get interesting. Vaishno devi is situated in Jammu kashmir, predominantly populated with Muslims and Kashmiri pundits. Punjab with its jolly nature Sikhs caress the borders of J&K. This explains the influence in the chants of “Jai Mata Di” in a crowd. A contrast is evident as soon as a person from southern India sticks his chant of “Jai Mata Ji”. It immediately reminds you how people are careful of their inherent customs.

Lets delve deeper. The custom proclaims to cover an uphill distance of 13 km on foot. You would see people barefooted covering the distance. You would see toddlers, barely able to cry properly, exclaiming “Jai Mata di”. And for those who want to cover the distance with much ease there are palanquins (doli), horses and even helicopters. The owners and workers behind these modes are majorly Muslims. . Not denying the strength and upkeep of doing these jobs but this is how we grab opportunities. And this opportunity quickly becomes an exploitation of the rich willing to pay.

So now that you are aware of the Vaishnodevi. It might seem foolish to take so much pain to visit it. Apart from a temple and a little adventure there seems no attraction in Vaishno devi. Religion can sometime dazzle you with its remedies. And people are hungry for such magic pills. One thing these places surely do is increase hope for betterment. Hope is nothing but the will to acheive something. And most things are a game of will power. It is the will of people to coexist happily in a place. Whereas there are places like Kashmir where peace can never be permanent due to lack of will.

Vaishnodevi should be a lesson for every place in the world where secularism has raised not only questions but has also been a reason of war. None of us own the piece of land we live on. None of us own the lives of our loved ones. But we can always love the ones around us to own a better life.

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