A day before India’s crucial World Cup tie against New Zealand in the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium, the state association, in keeping with traditions, conducted a puja to pray that all goes well on the match day and also that rain gods don’t play spoilsport. The HPCA, in fact, conducted two pujas in a span of two weeks so that the tournament is blessed by the local god Indrunag.
The puja took place in an ancient temple in Dharmshala and the temple is dedicated to Snake King.
Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Arun Dhumal, who’s a key face in HPCA, says a ritual always takes place before any big event happens inside the stadium. It happened before the first World Cup game that took place and also before India’s game to be played on Sunday.
“There is a deity here called Indrunag. Whenever any function happens in this part of the world, be it any home or marriage, a pooja is offered. It is like requesting god to offer her blessings and praying that the function gets concluded nicely,” Dhumal told The Indian Express, adding, “That has been the precedent here and everyone follows. We do a small pooja here and another pooja takes place in the temple. The HPCA every year has a Bhandara on April 4. Before this game and a World Cup game, a hawan is done so that our match goes without any problem.”
India will be playing their fifth league game against a quality New Zealand side and HPCA is hoping that god’s blessing will help them too. Dhumal recalled how once during the IPL game, the whole Dharmshala was raining except the stadium part.
“And as the match got over, the rain started. We seek God’s blessing that his blessings remain for the game,” he says.
HPCA has been facing some concern over the outfield when a few World Cup games took place. England captain Jos Buttler had even advised his team-mate to be cautious while fielding and had called the out-field ‘poor’. Dhumal came in defence of the outfield and called it unnecessary controversy.
“I felt it was unnecessary controversy. Those who all played the game were fine with it. They said something before the game but when the same team scored 350 runs, they were fine with the outfield. There are two types of grass here, one is for cold and one is for summer. It has a different shade, one is rai and the other is paspalum grass. People thought it was different, there could be misunderstandings by seeing it. There was a shade issue in the outfield but everything is alright now,” he explains.
The small ground is already in a buzz and a long queue of VVIP have already intimated the HPCA that they will present for the game. His phone has been buzzing for the past four days and requests for passes haven’t stopped. “Everyone wants to be here and we are trying to accommodate each one of them,” he adds.