Hospital 7 Hills, Mumbai Feb 12 , 2012 Sun 11 : 17 PM
Hospital 7 Hills makes one wonder why and where the name came from. And I believe it comes from the 7 Hills one crosses when on a pilgrimage to the Tirupati Temple in the South – situated in the State of Andhra Pradesh, but accesible to worshipers from surrounding states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Kerala, in almost actual distances ..
A most pious and celebrated religious region, which attracts followers and worshipers and believers in the highest of numbers. If I am not mistaken, after the Vatican it has the largest number of footfalls. The 'hundi' or the bag by the side of the main deity gets collections worth crores – money, jewelry precious stones, depending on the extent of the faith the worshipers have. I have visited this temple, considered one of the most powerful in the country, on several occasions, the first being when I was shooting for 'Bombay to Goa' in Madras, now Chennai. I had bought my first power car, a Pontiac Sports and Anwar Ali, brother of Mehmood, one of the most talented and exceptional comedians the film Industry ever had, decided to drive down to the temple, and so we did ..
The collections from the 'hundi' all go to a Trust that is managed by locals and appointees from the Government of the State, which utilises this large wealth in building hospitals educational institutions, residential structures for devotees to stay and of course the upkeep of this very large and spread out temple precinct. That first visit was unplanned and on instinct. We never had place to stay since we did not know how to book residence, so finding the entire region full, we were able to get some resting place on the verandah of one of the hundreds of apartment buildings that surround the region. Devotees go there to pray and pay respect in the hundreds of thousands. The city of Tirupati is at the bottom of the hills and one drives up to the main complex, on well built roads. There is also a hill path that starts from the city below right up to the temple, and many climb up and walk this distance too. Among the many and myriad temples of the country, Tirupati is one of the cleanest and most well managed. The flow of people is so large that within the sanctum, a destination that could take one hours of queuing up, the mere glimpse of the Lord Balaji for a few seconds is all that can be managed. People come here to seek blessings for themselves for others, for success, for prosperity, on a new acquisition, a film on release, marriage, … the list is endless …
There are several penances that many undertake. On a fulfilled vow, many perform the 'shastang' prayer mode, where you lay yourself down on your belly in front of the deity, going round the perimeter of the complex in similar fashion, or rolling themselves while chanting, on the hard stone gallery built around the main sanctorum. Many offer their hair in sacrifice, by shaving themselves completely bald, including women. Thousands of coconuts are broken, split open and offered to the deity also as a vow. Masses of hair collected from various heads of devotees is collected treated and exported to Western countries for manufacturing hair pieces, wigs, utilized in the entertainment industry, or some other causes. The 'sahastra kalash' pooja , or the thousand 'kalash' ( kalash is a container of special design, the size of a large mug made of metal or precious metal, gold, silver ) needs a booking at times a year in advance because of its importance and the limited number of people that the temple can accomodate, for this auspicious event. It is done at the time on a particular moment for bathing and dressing the deity, a most wonderful sight … the 'prasad' the Holy offering from the temple is the most delicious 'laddoo', round and circular in shape, can be a substitute for an entire meal .. !!
May the blessings of Lord Balaji forever be with the Hospital 7 Hills and may it bring joy, cure and happiness to all that visit it.
Belief has moved millions of humans. May it move all those that come here to positivity, forbearance, peace and tranquility … ever …