Vying for ‘God granted’ visas!

Visa temples of India

Prayer has forever yielded its power, whether in availing the mysterious ways of working of the divine or even as pleas of exclusively mortal appealing. Calling upon the Gods of our own religion of practice for matters as diverse as wishing health and wellbeing and riches and success or in very precise mention of personal yearnings is a universal character in manifestation of the belief upon this presence of what is perceived in theistic terms. But wishing upon the divine for a specific something still strikes as miracle in actual realisation and when the earnest request entails as an appeal for a visa, the strangeness of the phenomenon comes across as rather revised.

Rewiring the reasons in arousing divinity is what is most prominently encountered upon many sacred such spaces commonly dotting the Indian landscape, in such definite dwelling that has led them to find parallel popularity as ‘visa temples’. Even if you aren’t someone seeking a visa in spiritual scouting, the prospects still unfold as promising should you choose to ‘submitting your appeal’ at these sacred departments first-

Sri Lakshmi Visa Ganapathy Temple

In the cosmopolitan city of Chennai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, there runs a trail of the religious that strike as cosmopolitan as well. Specifically encountered a quirk within the premises of the Sri Lakshmi Visa Ganapathy Temple located in Pazavanthangal is this differently motivated bowing down in front of the statue of the Elephant God. Already regarded in some reiteration as a ‘Travel God’ along with the more exalted status of him entailing as Vighnaharta or the remover of obstacles as well as an eminence as the God of Auspicious Beginnings, Lord Ganesha is quite the ‘multitasker’ when it comes to blessing his devotees.

Or so they think- the folks at this temple and the many believers of this generosity of the divine, ‘religiously’ persisting in this claiming of luck in the form of many an approved visa statuses. The reality of it has been occurring for quite some time now but this had not always been the case. It though is for the major part of this well over three decades old religious place, that was established in 1988 in reversing the supposed bads as (dis)regarded in spiritual intent.

Run by Mohanbabu Jagannathan and his wife Sangeetha, this seat of the divine was sought to be an invocation upon such power of the God that would offset the inauspiciousness associated with cul-de-sac houses. It was Jagannathan’s father who built the temple and had the idol of Lord Ganesha brought from Mahabalipuram to be installed at this precise location in Nanganallur. Initially visited by the locals of the place, mostly the neighbours in ordinary religious devotion it would be some years hence that this additional dimension in dictating the popularity would find footing.

The tale unfurls as a common practice in seeking the blessings of the divine for significant life requirements to pan out as desired. Some foreign-bound locals of the area happened to place their travel documents in front of the deity before the submission. It was when their visas were granted without much problem that the narrative would unfold as one of much definite working in divine intervening in mortal affairs.

And thus emerged this newfound identity of the temple as the Sri Lakshmi Visa Ganapathy Temple sometime in the 2010s when the belief came to be more certainly ingrained in its reconstructed establishment. And with more hits than misses earned over the years in the form of many a validated cases of the visa cause furthered by locals as well as by devotees all over, the red highlighting of the temple’s name has stood out indeed in established evidence of the power of prayer.

Chamatkari Visa Wale Hanuman Mandir

Source: Amar Ujala

Lord Hanuman seems to be the ruling God evoked in India across many VISA intentions of fulfilling. Quite aptly indeed since the devout follower of Lord Ram had himself flown into Sri Lanka in all personal power to rescue Goddess Sita from the evil demon Raavan. The appetite for mythology thus satiated and the complete faith on the divine reinstated and it is not much of a surprise that the monkey God comes to be most relied on in leading to such ends of international travel.

Nestled in the very capital of the country therefore is the Chamatkari Visa wale Hanuman Mandir, out of which operates this ‘nexus’ of abroading aspirations. Standing on IGNOU Road in the Neb Sarai area of South Delhi as a very humble temple in appearance, the distinguishing distinction of the godly though plays out in much palpabality. Rather guaranteed seems to be the ways of the divine in this acquiring of a confirmed foreign ticket, as is substantiated by a religiously maintained register upon which thank you notes are signed after devotees obtain their visa. The mode of ‘appealing’ to the immigration authorities with Lord Hanuman as the guiding God also is one as ritualistic as can be, as devotees to the temple bring along also their birth charts to know about their ‘videsh yatra yog’.

Chilkur Balaji Temple

Perhaps the oldest ‘visa temple’ of the country and one that is more ancient as well in its temple reputation overriding all others in the list would be the Chilkoor Balaji Temple of Hyderabad. A 17th century temple that stands on the banks of the Osman Sagar Lake in Telangana, this dynamics in exploring of a non religious character would come to be a peculiarity of the 1980s arising.

In fact so prominent is this expression in which this otherwise special as well temple scouts popularity that it is also referred to as the Visa Balaji Temple. Almost a whopping 1 lakh devotees throng the temple weekly, particularly computer professionals seeking for US visas in continuation of the ‘legacy’ out of which it assumed this newer strand in identifying. What occurred some three decades ago as a case in obtaining US visas by a group of software applications after a visit to this temple manifests today in much greater a scale of similar happening.

The ritual though in seeking to invoke the blessings of Lord Balaji for this specific purpose in fulfilment would be one more ‘rigorous’ than the other considerations guiding this trail leading to the God. The elaborate procedure in securing visa victory would necessarily call upon an initial visit to the temple for offering prayers the regular way with an additional pledge to return for performing 108 rounds of parikrama after their visa is approved.

A true tourist attraction as well, nestled as it is in the picturesque village of Chilkur, the namesake temple is distinctive in a couple of other assertions of identity. Be it the dictum in visitors having to wear only handloom apparel on Saturdays or the pride in being one of the only two temples in the country that does not entertain VIP culture, this visa temple stands up indeed to the ideals of benevolence that only the great gods can generously harbour.

Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurdwara

Not just temples though, gurudwaras too now incorporate within their essence such addressing of prayers that arise out of a very intense intention in seeking visas. Case in point a 150 year old place of Sikh worship in the village of Talhan in Punjab’s Jalandhar district asserting as the Talhan Sahib Ji Gurudwara where the attempt in appeasing the divine occurs also in a very curious manner of expression. For indeed the offering of what would definitely invoke this dimension upon the omnipotent direction is one as accurately representative as possible of this grand pursuit in globetrotting.

Whether it be students or professionals, individuals or families, everyone visiting the Gurudwara with high hopes of securing a visa make it a point to adhere to the now established tradition of toy aeroplanes being a part of the offering. So necessary indeed is such pursuing of the proceedings that the moniker of Hawaijahaj Gurudwar applies as prominently to its prevailing popularity.

aeroplane gurudwara
Source: Indus Scrolls

A large model aircraft rests as well atop the religious structure, in ample validation of the innumerable such wishes it is known to honor. And for those compelled to ask if these toy aeroplanes do aid in any way in helping dreams find realisation as divine manifestation, it sure does but in a different association. These miniature makes of what visa seekers look forward to boarding in their real avatar are given away to children, fanning the delightful span of their innocent dreams.

Chamatkarik Shree Hanumanji Mandir

The definite reputation of being a visa granter accruing to Lord Hanuman might be occurring also in the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. But the premises whereupon prevails this peculiar particularity of prayer is one of a diverse history. Existing since some four centuries before is this temple of what finds present day identity as the Chamatkarik Shree Hanumanji Mandir, but acquiring only the monkeyfaced expression some couple of centuries later.

Back in the day, the temple was devoted to Mahadev before going on to house a shining idol of Shri Hanumanji as t the presiding deity. Bajrangbali has since been endowing his profound blessings upon one and all visiting the temple though the invoking of his powers in that specific spirit of a visa intention would not be relevant until desires in globetrotting would come to be the modern day norm. Stemming since the British days when stringent rules were in place regarding visa regulations, this alternative identity of Hanuman has prevailed as being priority consideration attended to upon this premise of the religious.

And thus pours through the narrow by-lanes of Desai-ni-pol in Khadia in Ahmedabad where the temple is exactly located a beeline of devotees fully believing in this dictum of divine intervention. Saturdays happen to be specially jam packed for this particular manifestation of powers of the God, when hundreds of visa aspirants throng the temple to offer the required documents first at his holy feet before moving on to human hands.