At Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, there is a revered shrine called Vindhyachal Devi Temple. This temple is devoted to Vindhyavasini, a goddess thought to be a manifestation of Durga.
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Besides its religious significance, the Vindhyachal Devi temple is important in Indian politics. Many political figures have visited the Vindhyachal Devi temple over the years in an effort to win the local populace’s favor and obtain the goddess’ blessings. In this article, we will discuss the significance of the Vindhyachal Devi temple in Indian politics.
The history of the Vindhyachal Devi temple dates back to ancient times. According to Hindu mythology, the goddess Vindhyavasini is said to have appeared here and blessed the sage Markandeya with the boon of immortality.
Indira Gandhi’s Visit to Vindhyachal Temple
When visiting Mirzapur-cum-Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh in 1980, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi startled the authorities by asking for jalebis and mathari (popular local snacks) for breakfast. Gandhi’s initial visit to Mirzapur was reportedly private. She stayed at the Asthabhuja Inspection Bungalow, according to then-District Magistrate Prashanta Kumar Mishra, who subsequently came to the position of Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary.
Gandhi mentioned that he was craving hot jalebis and mathari with a pickle for the morning after doing a lengthy “puja” at the Ashtabhuja temple in Vindhyachal late at night. The request took Mishra off guard, and he felt helpless, but his tehsildar could provide hot jalebis made with desi ghee, mathari, and pickle from the Vindhyachal region. Mishra later learned that Gandhi enjoyed the local breakfast.
The Rise of Vindhyachal Devi Temple in Indian Politics during the 1980s
The 1980s saw the Vindhyachal Devi temple rise to the fore of Indian politics when the temple first gained political relevance. At this time, BJP started to emerge as a powerful political party. The party began concentrating on Hindutva, a political philosophy based on Hindu nationalism. The BJP leaders thought they could unite the nation and win the populace’s support by promoting Hinduism and Hindu culture.
The Vindhyachal Devi temple became a focal point of the BJP’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh. The party leaders started visiting the temple regularly and offering prayers to the goddess. They also organized various events and festivals at the temple to attract the attention of the local people.
BJP’s efforts paid off, and the party started to gain significant support in the UP. As a result, BJP won 221 of the 425 seats in Uttar Pradesh’s elections in 1991, forming the state’s first-ever BJP-led government. The party’s success was primarily attributed to its focus on Hindutva and its association with the Vindhyachal Devi temple.
Since then, the Vindhyachal Devi temple has become an important site for political leaders to visit during election campaigns. Many political parties, including BJP, Congress, and Samajwadi Party, have organized rallies and public meetings in Vindhyachal & Mirzapur to attract voters.
Visits by Gandhi Family, Akhilesh Yadav, and BJP Leaders
Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress general secretary, and UP East in charge, visited the Vindhyavasini temple in Vindhyachal on March 19, 2019, during her three-day tour of Uttar Pradesh. This temple is a holy shrine of Aadi-shakti. It has been visited by many members of the Gandhi family, including her grandmother Indira Gandhi who visited the temple at least five times in her lifetime. Pradhan Pujari of the temple, also the vice president of the Congress party in Mirzapur, has said there is a deep-rooted connection between Maa Vindhyawasini and the Gandhi family.
Akhilesh Yadav is the former CM of UP and President of the Samajwadi Party. He has also visited the Vindhyachal Devi Temple on various occasions and has offered prayers there. His visits to the temple are seen as a way to connect with the local crowd and strengthen his party’s support base in the region.
Controversies Surrounding BJP’s Emphasis on Vindhyachal Devi Temple and Hindu Nationalism
In recent years, the Vindhyachal Devi temple has become even more significant in Indian politics. In 2017, the BJP won by an overwhelming three-quarters majority of 325 seats landslide victory in the state elections in Uttar Pradesh. The party’s focus on Hindutva and its association with the Ayodhya Ram Mandir, Kashi Vishwanath Temple & Vindhyachal Devi Temple played a crucial role in its victory.
BJP’s success in UP was believed to be an essential lift for the party’s hopes of triumphing in the general elections of 2019. So the party focused on Hindutva and the temples during its election campaign. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi still has not visited the temple and offered prayers to the goddess during his campaign like he used to do in Kashi Vishwanath Temple or other temples.
Many opposition parties have criticized the BJP’s focus on the Vindhyachal Devi temple and Hindutva. They argue that the party’s emphasis on Hindu nationalism is divisive and goes against the secular values of the Indian Constitution.
However, the BJP and its supporters argue that the party’s focus on Hindutva and the Vindhyachal Devi temple is essential for the unity and integrity of the country.
For example, in 2017, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited the Vindhywasini temple during his election campaign. Yogi, known for his solid Hindu nationalist views, saw the temple to showcase his commitment to the Hindu faith and to gain the support of the local populace. As a result, the visit was widely publicized and received significant media coverage, cementing the temple’s position as an important site for political rallies and speeches.
On March 15, 2021, Ex. President Ram Nath Kovind visited the Maa Vindhyavasini Temple along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his wife, Savita Kovind. During the visit, the Chief Minister presented the President with an idol of Lord Ram and a photograph of Maa Vindhyavasini. The Chief Minister also informed the President about the 50-ft pathway being constructed around the temple.
The Vindhyachal Devi temple’s significance in Indian politics is not limited to the state of Uttar Pradesh, however. Other regions of India are also affected by the temple, especially those with large Hindu populations.
In conclusion, the Vindhyachal Devi temple is a significant cultural and religious landmark in India, with a rich history and enduring cultural legacy. The popularity and influence of the temple have made it a crucial destination for political speeches and demonstrations, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, the Vindhyachal Devi temple’s enormous religious significance will remain an important symbol of Hindu identity and faith for a long time.