The Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place has been teeming with devotees for the last few days. And the reason isDonald Trump’s H-1B Visa Reform Bill. The priests at the temple tell us, “In the last few days, there has been an almost 95 % increase in the number of people coming to the temple with their janampatris to know about their videsh yatra yog.” And this is not the only temple in the city that has the power to get your US visa approved. Another temple in Neb Sarai, famously know as ‘Chamatkari ‘Visa Wale’ Hanumanji Ka Mandir’, is very popular among visa and green card-seekers. The reason why the deity seems to be a favourite among visa-seekers is his status as the ‘pawan putra’, who needs no visa to fly across borders. And let’s not forget that he flew all the way to Lanka with a whole mountain, and paid no extra baggage fee!

Delhiites are not the only ones seeking divine intervention for their visa woes. At the Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurdwara, in Talhan, Punjab, popularly known as the ‘hawaijahaj’ gurudwara, visa-seekers offer toy aeroplanes, and down South, devotees are flocking to ‘Visa Balaji’ at the Chilkur Balaji Temple in Hyderabad.

Rekha Jain, the head priestess of the Chamatkari ‘Visa Wale’ Hanumanji Ka Mandir in Neb Sarai, offers a prayer by a visa-seeker to the deity (BCCL/ Ajay Kumar Gautam)

VN Tiwari, one of the priests at the CP temple, tells us, “Hamare paas log janampatri laate hain, aur poochte hain ki videsh jana hoga ya nahin. Agar yog hota hai toh hum disha batate hain, aur kaafi log batate hain ki unhe America jaana hai. Kuch log upaay bhi poochte hain. Kuch log joh videsh mein hai, woh phone karke poochte hain ki wahan reh payenge ya nahin, visa renewal hoga ya nahin.”

The visa reform bill, if passed, will make it tough for American IT companies to employ Indian workers, and might shatter the American Dream of many Indians. In these difficult times, divine intervention seems to be an increasingly popular route for those waiting to get their US visa clearance, and also for those who are already in the US but need to get their visa renewed. “Unka naam hi pawan putra hai. Woh udd ke kahin bhi ja sakte hai, isliye visa ki arzi log Hanumanji se lagate hain,” says Rekha Jain, the head priest of the Neb Sarai temple. While most visitors to the temple are those seeking visas, the priestess says that devotees come with other requests as well. “We don’t know why people call it ‘Visa Wale’ Hanumanji Ka Mandir. Devotees come here with many different wishes – property issues, those looking for a job, financial issues etc,” says Jain.

On any given day, around 20 arzis (applications) are submitted to the deity in the temple, and almost every second arzi is by someone waiting for a US visa. Visitors to the temple have to write their wish on a white paper in red ink and submit it to Lord Hanuman, along with token money. They are then given prayers to recite every day till their wish comes true. Once the wish is granted, they have to return with offerings of laddoos and bananas for the deity and also write a ‘thank you’ note. Interestingly, almost all notes seeking US visa are written in English, maybe to prove to the Lord that they do deserve the visa or Green Card!

There were not just IT sector employees, but also students and their parents, waiting in the queue at the two temples. “It is my second visit to the temple. I am hoping that my daughter gets admission in the US and her visa gets cleared before the visa process becomes more difficult,” we heard a visitor at the Neb Sarai temple telling the priest.

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