Like a true Udupi -ite last Thursday I went to the “rayara matta” at Hyderabad, this was the sight that greeted me, I left my footwear outside and walked in, when I came out a girl popped from nowhere and demanded money for the footwear I shooed her away… but it made me think
We were to go to Kumbhashi, that is between Kota and Kundapura. Ratna doddamma got into the car bare foot, my brother very diligently reminded her “doddamma, mettu” that is wear your footwear, but she flashed one of her warm, smiles, and told him,”I am not wearing it, after all once we go to the temple we will be leaving it behind in the car, so whats the big deal, why do I need chappals in the car.”
I remember leaving our foot wear in the vegetable vendors shop across the “Raghavendra Swamy mutt” at the Udupi Rathabeedi. I remember people requesting the general hangers on the temple patio to keep an eye on their footwear and a courtesy would either give them a portion of Prasad, usually a banana or discreetly slip a coin. Eventually there was this young boy who would constantly be told to keep a watch and he would be slipped in a 20 paisa with inflation one rupee coin. Then came a stage where he began demanding money, this could be simply because he did not want to take responsibilities for temple goes are notorious for looking out for bargains or freebies or he wanted a fair energy exchange.
Simple act of addressing a need gave rise to an enterprise, last when I saw the kid, well a middle-aged man now, he had a portable stall with innumerable pigeon hole shelves and he charged 5 rs. per pair of shoes, and 10/- for a mobile.
Someday we might even see, a book online, ”paaduka seve,” where you book your pigeon hole in advance and deposit your footwear, premium “Paaduka seva” would include water to wash your feet when you come out of the temple and at Platinum cards you can dry your feet too.
Traditionally we do not wear footwear into a place of worship. The Sikhs have a beautiful, bee hole structure where people place their foot wear a token is given to them after their worship they return the token and pick up the foot wear. This service is for free.