Little Bits of History

Tragedy Strikes

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 25, 2014
Mandhradevi temple

Mandhradevi temple

January 25, 2005: Hundreds are killed during a stampede at the Mandhradevi temple. The temple is dedicated to Shakti, a Hindu goddess. She is the personification of the divine feminine and is sometimes called The Great Divine Mother. Hinduism has a more fluid canon and a panoply of gods and goddesses. Shakti has four Adi Shakti Pith and 51 different centers of worship are located in the Indian sub-continent. The Mandhradevi temple is located near Wai in the Satara Discrict of Maharashtra in India. It is located about 12.5 miles away from Satara, a larger city in the region.

The temple itself is located on a hill that is 4,650 feet above sea level and overlooks Purandar Fort which has existed in one form or another for nearly 1000 years. According to folklore, the temple is about 400 years old and was built during the Shivaji’s Maratha rule. The title to the land is held by Lord Mandashwar and Kaleshwari Devi. During most of the year, the temple sees little traffic. The Kalubai idol has two silver masks and wears silken clothes. During processions, members of the Gurav family carry the masks since they are seen as the hereditary keepers of the shrine. Since rituals must be carried out, family members are also in charge of these and rotate amongst themselves to make sure the proscribed ceremonies take place.

Once a year, the temple becomes a popular site. Those undertaking the ten-day Kalubai Jatra pilgrimage in January make a stop here. The main event is a 24-hour long festival held on the day of the full moon. Animal sacrifices are carried out as well as other food gifts. Nivad of puran poli and curd rice are offered. Devotees also offer the goddess green sari. The goddess is carried through the village sitting in a silver palkhi. The festival took place on January 16 this year.

On this day, about 300,000 people were at the temple to worship. Since the temple is high atop a hill, stone steps have been carved into the hill to make the ascent easier. These steps were slick with coconut water that had been spilled from fruit offerings to the goddess. Someone slipped on the slick steps causing a chain reaction. The pandemonium caused as people were crushed together was exacerbated by fires which broke out in nearby shops. The fires set off explosions of gas cylinders. Many were crushed by the mob as people panicked and tried to get away from the fires. More people were burned by the fires themselves. Over 300 people died in the stampede.

No matter what cause one defends, it will suffer permanent disgrace if one resorts to blind attacks on crowds of innocent people. – Albert Camus

I get panic attacks in big crowds. – Liev Schreiber

For solving a surprisingly large and varied number of problems, crowds are smarter than individuals. – Michael Shermer

I get very anxious and am scared in crowds and things like that. – Daniel Johns

Also on this day: Moscow University – In 1755, Moscow University was established.
Rebellion – Shays’s Rebellion attacked an arsenal.
First Winter Olympics – In 1924, International Winter Sports Week opens in Chamonix, France.
Payola – In 1960, punishments for those involved in the payola scandal were issued.

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One Response

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  1. vanbraman said, on January 26, 2014 at 3:16 am

    This is very understandable if you have been in a big crowd in India. I once was with a group trying to go one way while the majority of the people were wanting to go the other way. I felt really pressed and luckily we made it through OK.


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