It was 2nd February 2010; I was in Kolkata with my friends Albin & Naveen, I was the only Bengali guy- my friends were from Pune (Maharashtra) and didn’t know Bangla. All of us new to the city, ventured out to see different places of attraction. We took a lovely tram ride from Dharmotōla (Esplanade) to the Beautiful Nakhoda Masjid (নাখোদা মসজিদ). Nakhoda Masjid, the biggest Masjid of Kolkata and was built in 1926. I loved the onion shaped dome and the architecture of the Masjid. The thing I didn’t like is the congestion in the area, shops are attached to beautiful red stone walls of the Masjid, and this surely bites into the beauty of the structure.
Kalighat Temple, Kolkata | কালীঘাট মন্দির, কোলকাতাThen we moved towards our next destination, the famous Kalighat Mandir (কালীঘাট মন্দির). We were little tired by now and the time was approaching 4pm. We were walking towards the temple glancing at the stalls selling pottery, shankha- pola, shankh etc. As we neared the entrance of Kalighat, a pundit rushed to us and informed that temple would be closed for darshan soon, and we saw the long queue darshan. We decided to come back the next day; we made up our mind and were moving ahead towards Mother Teresa’s Home for Sick and the Dying Destitutes (Nirmal Hriday) which is a part of the Kalighat Building. Suddenly this Pundit called us back and said,” Amar sathe cholun, ami apnader darshan korie debo 5 minute-e.” (Come along with me, I’l take u to the temple directly for darshan.) We ignored him, but he was determined! And continuously kept insisting us.. so finally we decided to go with him & this was ‘The Biggest Mistake’!We moved along with him, he took us to a place where we kept our shoes- then he insisted that we should buy some Prasad from his friends shop- we did so. Then he took us through some not-so-clean ways, we passed through the darshan queue, crossed everything in a minute and then entered the main temple through a passage where another man was standing and each of us had to pay Rs.10. We thought “Eh that was CHEAP!”. Then finally he rushed us though the “darshan area” of the main temple, we felt like a Merry-go-round and after this darshan, we thought we would pay him at most Rs.300 for three of us. But wait we were not over yet! Now we on the flip side of the temple. He told us to sit, and he got another pundit who was supposed to perform the puja. I refused, I told,”Amra Pujo Korate chai Na” , we had sensed some thing is surely fishy! But he was adamant.Now we three were sitting in the temple, the pundit told us- he’l perform puja individually for us. So first he took my friend Naveen, he kept his hand on Naveen’s head and chanted some mantra (with 4G speed!), then he gave him a one rupee coin dipped in sindoor – as a sign of good luck! Then finally, asked him for Dakshina by saying “Ja Icche tai deen” –U can give whatever u want. Naveen took out a Rs. 50 but the greedy pundit was not satisfied with it and demanded more; Naveen was worried, firstly he didn’t understand Bangla and secondly, he was unaware of the fact that people of different religions visit Kalighat, so he handed over a Rs. 500 note to the Pundit! Then, Naveen came and sat next to me and the pundit took Albin for puja. Naveen told me about the incident.. I was totally taken aback by this kind of cheating at a Holy place like Kalighat! The Same thing happened with Albin too.. and he ended up paying Rs.300 as Dakshina. Now it was my turn, he took me near the pillar of the temple, asked my name and birth date and chanted some mantras and asked for dakshina, I handed him a Rs.10 note; He was furious but didn’t express it- maintaining a smile on his face, he told Rs. 10 is too less.. I thought “Oh! Yeah boi, I know Rs.10 is too less for you, you might be making thousands in a day by cheating in the name Goddess Kali! “. Finally I gave him the same 10 rupees note.Now came the first pundit, and asked for his share dakshina we didn’t have much money left wit us we offered him 100 Rupees but he refused by saying, “ This is too less, I have saved your time etc…” But, We said, “Newar hoile naw- nahole Chere Daw!” (Take it or leave it!). Finally, we came out of temple premises, took our shoes and left for home.We’ve learnt a very important lesson from this episode. Never take shortcuts at Holy places or Places of Worship! If you have come for Darshan or Offering Prayer don’t ever try to jump the queue by unfair means; this will only land you in trouble. The sheer existence of these Fraud Pundits at Holy places shows that there are quite a lot of people who intend to take shortcuts at Holy Places! Concluding with the statement, “Remember, you’re always being watched by the Divine power! So make sure that you do not fall into traps of the Shaitan and always be true to yourself!”