Kolkata, Oct 11 : During Durga Puja in Kolkata, almost every puja committee takes an initiative to feed the needy and poor with Maa Durgas ‘prasad’. A very similar picture can be seen in a temple located in the citys Bondel Gate area.
The only difference being a change in the deity. Instead of Maa Durga, here Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan is worshipped.
Bachchan, who is referred to as ‘guru’ and ‘prabhu’ by his fans here is also married to Jaya Bhaduri, daughter of Bengali journalist-writer Taroon Kumar Bhaduri.
The fans perform arti every morning and evening in front of his idol.
Founded in 2001, the temple stands as a mark of extreme devotion of Big B’s fans in the City of Joy, and their unconditional love for him. Every year, his birthday is celebrated at the temple and this year too will be no exception.
Talking about it, founder of the temple Sanjay Patodiya said: "This year, we will be worshipping guru’s parents Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Teji Bachchan to express our gratitude to them for gifting us this Koh-i-Noor.
"This time, as guru turns 77, that many children will be taking part in the birthday celebration with us. We will provide them lunch and gift them with clothes, toys, books etc.
"On any occasion, we start the day by worshipping guru’s parents. This time also we will worship his statue and offer him bhog.
"He is not fond of cakes, so we offer him mewa for his good health. After that we will cut his birthday cake along with the 77 kids.
"Later in the day, we will go to Kalighat temple to offer puja in his name and pray for his long and healthy life. We also feed the needy people sitting outside the temple in guru’s name."
How did Amitabh Bachchan temple come into existence?
In 1982, when Amitabh Bachchan met with a fatal accident on the sets of "Coolie" which almost took his life, his fans went into a state of shock.
"When he got injured in 1982, at that time, we felt like as if we are losing our father. We were only praying for his recovery then. From that time, I started dreaming of worshipping him like a deity because I realized that he is nothing less than God to me. Finally, we could build the temple in 2001," said Sanjay.
The members of the fan club perform social work round the year in Bachchan’s name and donate to causes like flood relief, organize blood donation camps etc.
Sanjay said, "Our motto is not to show Amitabh Bachchan how much we love him, but to do social work in his name. Because that is the only way we can show prabhu how much we love him. That’s what we have been doing all these years. We have done a lot of social work and extended a helping hand during the Uttarakhand floods, Kerala and Assam. We also sponsor the education of 45 children.
"On Wednesday, we donated for the Bihar floods and to our utter surprise we got to know the same day via Twitter that Prabhu has also contributed money to the cause!"
There is a line on one of the walls of the temple which reads, "Jay Shree Amitabh, sorry God, we worship Amitji more than you."
It is full of photos of the megastar, his different characters in different films from young age till now. The temple also houses a pair of white leather shoes worn by Bachchan in "Agneepath", carefully preserved in a glass case.
Amitabhat Bachchan knows about this Kolkata temple and also knows Sanjay Patodiya and his family very well but does not approve of the idea of worshipping him as a deity.
Perhaps that is the reason why he is yet to visit the temple in person.
"Prabhu knows about his temple and has also mentioned it in his book Main Amitabh Bachchan Bol Raha Hoon. Yes, he has not permitted us to worship his statue or photo but we cannot stop doing that. He is our God. Can you stop worshipping God?," Sanjay said, adding, "But he is extremely happy with the social work we do and he has told that several times. We have met him on multiple occasions but he is yet to visit the temple.
"Earlier we used to go to Mumbai on guru’s birthday and meet him but for the last few years, we celebrate it in his temple. Guru loves his fans and has also tweeted saying I am proud of my Kolkata fan club. Whenever any member of this temple goes for an important work, we first visit the temple and seek our guru’s blessings."
Members of the All Bengal Amitabh Bachchan Fans’ Association claim that they are the biggest fans of the megastar on earth and nobody can replace them from that position.
"When we founded the temple in 2001, we were a group of 50-60 people, all Amitabh Bachchan’s fans. Apart from that we have a lot of well wishers. For so many years now we have been worshipping him and our love and devotion has only increased.
"We believe there can never be any replacement of guru. He is the shahenshah and we are his biggest fans, just like Hanumanji is a bhakt of Lord Ramchandra. Nobody can replace us from that position," Sanjay signed off.