Devotees of Kal Bhairav, a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva, would no longer need to buy illicit spirits for offerings as the BJP government has allowed two liquor outlets outside his temple in Ujjain.
The state government has decided to allow opening of one outlet each of country liquor and IMFL outside the temple premises from April 1. Depending on their choice and pocket, devotees make offering of liquor to the deity.
“Two special counters will be opened from April 1 to legalise the sale of liquor because there were complaints about illicit sale as also about inferior quality,” Excise Commissioner Rakesh Shrivastava told The Indian Express.
It has been an age-old tradition that devotees make an offering of liquor to the deity. The pujari offers a part of it to the deity by pouring it in a plate and returns the rest to the devotees who consume it as prasad. The decision has been taken ahead of Simhastha in 2016 when lakhs of devotees and tourists would descend on Ujjain.
The present sale of small liquor bottles and pouches by flower vendors outside the temple is illegal and despite efforts by the local administration, illicit alcohol sale goes unabated.There are times when the illicit sale becomes a law and order issue with vendors picking fights with devotees.
Assistant Commissioner (Ujjain) Raghvendra Upadhyay said the proposal to legalise the sale had come from the sub-divisional magistrate, citing law and order. The process to invite tenders would begin in February and those who win bids for shops located in Chhatri Chowk and K D Gate (both in Ujjain town) would open the special counters from April 1. The new counters outside the temple would fetch an additional 5 per cent revenue in additional to the annual hike.
After the BJP came to power in 2003, it began bestowing Pavitra Nagari status on holy towns. Once the new status is notified, the sale of liquor, eggs and non-vegetarian food is prohibited in the vicinity of temples.