Over 100 devotees were crushed to death when a jeep ploughed into a massive crowd, which resulted in a deadly stampede.
The tragedy has raised a host of cries - could/should it have been prevented? Who is responsible for this? Why does this keep happening? How can we stop it? The biggest arguments are coming from two camps.
One side believes that this was a preventable tragedy, the result of bad planning and misappropriation of funds. They blame the government and the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB, which maintains the temple.
The other camp says that such a tragedy is unavoidable. The sheer numbers of pilgrims (the highest in the world, close to 50 lakhs each year) mean that security arrangements will never be adequate. They ask for restrictions in the number of pilgrims
But such arguments take an excessively simplistic approach. The number of pilgrims cannot be restricted, faith does not allow that. The security arrangements can be upgraded, but perfect security is a dream.
Instead we can take a leaf from the Saudis and their arrangements in Mecca. These include special areas for tents and living quarters, covered walkways that funnel crowds instead of letting them meander as they please and most importantly- a complete ban on vehicles. We need to urgently start implementing their tried and tested methods. Of course all of this costs an excessive amount of money - and Sabarimala does not have oil dollars to fund its growth.
So whether we like it or not this is the way in which things will change - through accidents and the lives of innocents.
Let's just hope we learn fast.Is Makara Jyothi light man-made?
Text: Vinayak Hegde
Images: PTI and AP
For the week of 14 January to 21 January, 2011