As rivers and canals dry up, temples and shrines in India are feeling the heat, quite literally.

No water even for gods how drought is hitting temples and shrines in the countryWomen return after collecting water from a lake in drought-hit Dambadahalli near Chikmagalur; PTI
news Friday, May 06, 2016 - 18:09

The severe water crisis in the country that is affecting a staggering 330 million citizens, has not even spared the abodes of gods and spiritual leaders.

As rivers and canals dry up, temples and shrines in India are feeling the heat, quite literally. From conducting everyday rituals to celebrating major festivals to handling the hundreds of devotees that regularly visit the temples, authorities are struggling to deal with the alarming water shortage situation. 

The Saibaba Sansthan Trust in Shirdi in Maharastra is finding it difficult to quench the thirst of the thousands of devotees that visit the shrine every day. 

As the report says, "Despite being flush with funds, there is hardly any water in the rivers, canals or wells that dot the district which the trust can source and buy."

“We commissioned water tankers by paying Rs 31 lakh in February and Rs 19 lakh in March. The trust needs about 20-22 lakh litres every day,“ Rajendra Jagtap, chief of the trust's water department, told the newspaper. 

The footfall at the Ram Navami celebrations conducted by the trust also fell this year and devotees attributed this to the drought in several regions of the state.

Further south, the Sri Krishna Mutt in Udupi, Karnataka, has cancelled the famous Teppotsava or floating festival.

In the Teppotsava, "the Utsava Murthis of Sri Krishna and Mukhyaprana are taken out of the math in gold palanquin to the Madhwasarovar and placed in a well decorated float erected on boats and taken around the sarovara."

This year however, the Madhwasarovar does not have enough water and hence priests decided to call of the festival which takes place in April and May. 

According to a report in The Times of India, the Mutt which sees throngs of devotees during the summer holidays, is using 10 tankers of water a day at present.

“This year, though the Madhwasarovara has water, it's not enough for the boat to move around. If we do so, the boat might be damaged. We've explained the conditions to the pilgrims. I hope by June, the district gets showers. We are praying for rain," Vishweshwara Teertha swami of Pejawar Mutt told TOI. 

In April, the Kukke Shree Subramanya Temple in Sullia taluk in Dakshina Kannada stopped issuing "teertha" (Holy water) bottles to devotees in order to save water following a dip in the water levels of the temple well. 

"Water from this well is used for ritualistic bath to the idol and rest of the water is distributed as holy water in bottles to the devotees. As per tradition, water from other water sources cannot be used for these purposes. Since well has minimum water, it is used only to give holy bath to idols," C U Poovappa, executive officer of Kukke Shree Subramanya, told TOI

Similarly, a slump in the water table around the Purnagiri Temple in Uttarakhand has been inconveniencing devotees, The Tribune reported in April. 

“We have decided to supply drinking water at Bhairab temple, Tunnyas, Siddhmor and Kali temple through tankers where pilgrims are facing water shortage,” BS Kuwarbi, assistant engineer, Jal Sansthan, Tanakpur, told the publication. 

Also read: Gold and diamonds in donations, coveted treasure troves: A look at some of the richest temples in south India


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