Keonjhar (Odisha): This is a story of a voluntary courier service that thrives, not on money but faith. The administration of the Maa Tarini Devi Temple in Keonjhar has started a unique bus service to collect offerings from devotees.
52-year-old Kautake Dehuri is a devotee of Goddess ‘Maa Tarini'. She wants to offer a coconut at her temple. But for this, she doesn't need to travel to 'Maa Tarini' temple at Ghatagaon in Keonjhar district of Odisha, many miles away from her village. All she has to do is just stand on the main road with her offering in hand. The next bus on its way to Keonjhar will pick it up and deliver it to the temple.
"I am sure the coconut will reach the 'Maa Tarini' temple safely. We have all faith on the Goddess,'' says Kautake Dehuri.
A bus arrives, and the driver takes Kautake's offering. He places it alongside several other coconuts taken from devotees across Odisha, all destined to reach 'Maa Tarini' temple. If the temple is not on the route, then the coconuts are handed over to other bus drivers heading towards Keonjhar or are dropped off at designated collection boxes. There are smaller temples of Maa Tarini across Bihar, and all such temples also serve as collection points for these coconuts.
The idea is not let distance come in between the deity and her devotee.
"Our bus might not stop for passengers en route but will definitely stop to pick these sacred coconuts. We believe our journey becomes safe after we carry these coconutsm," says Jetendra Kalandi, a bus driver.
Everyday, the main temple receives over ten thousand coconuts, which are then collected in trolleys and stored in godowns. Some of these coconuts are offered to the Goddess and the rest are auctioned by the temple administration.
BK Thamba, executive officer, Maa Tarini Temple administrationm, says "In spite of the huge quantity of coconuts coming here, not a single coconut is stolen or lost and it’s all possible due to the faith of the devotees on Maa Tarini."
This unique sacred coconut service is perhaps the world's largest voluntary courier service that thrives not on money but purely on faith and trust.