Millions of Indians visit temples and religious sites for various reasons, some for marriage,
jobs and some even for the hope of kids. However, the ChilkurBalaji temple is famous for granting visas for people who would like to work in United States. For decades, people all across South India have flocked to this 500 year old temple and with the sheer size of
the crowd one can only say that Lord Vishnu grants wishes at a rate which is anything but average. In the era of Donald Trump’s ideologue of ‘Make America Great Again’, as immigrants we see hardships in visa restrictions and a sense of uncertainty. On a Sunday
morning, you will a find a group of men and women who are praying and chanting the Hindu deity Balaji’s name. As you walk in you will observe pink slips of paper with 108 numbered boxes in people’s hand which are used to count the number of pradakshina or rounds
that they make. It is believed that if you complete 11 orbits around the inner shrine, Lord Balaji will fulfill your wishes. If Lord Balaji fulfills your wishes then you must come back and make 108 rounds. On any given time you will find 2000-3000 devotees performing paradakshinas. According the temple’s website, Lord Balaji used to visit Tirupati every year. However
once, when an illness prevented him from making his pilgrimage it is said that God appeared to him in a dream and said, “I am right here in the jungle nearby. You don’t have to worry.” The devotee then went to the spot in the jungle indicated in the dream and when he dug the spot, it yielded a Swayambhu idol of Lord Balaji with Sridevi and Bhoodevi (a rare combination). He then built a temple to house his finds. The current version of the temple dates back to the late 1600s. The ritual of 108 pradakshinasalso dates back to the founding of the temple, according to Rangarajan, who tells us the ‘voice’ of Lord Balaji told the devotee to stop after his 108th round. Sandeep Kumar, software engineer working for Nexage Technologies who arrived in the US a month ago, says that “Visa Balaji is very powerful.’’ With a sense of triumph in his voice he tells me that his work visa was delayed by three months
due to minor paper work issue. After his visit, within a week his visa was approved. This is just one story, of the power of Visa Balaji. There are temples in Gujarat and Punjab where people pray for their visas to get approved. During my college days, I travelled multiple times to Hyderabad for work and helping students, and I always sensed fear amongst the parents when it came to obtaining visas. Hyderabad in my opinion is an epicentre for students who
want to travel abroad. In the past, students have fallen for scams when it comes to universities and studying in United States. In 2016, the U.S. consulate in Hyderabad issued 169,071 non-immigrant visas, which grant foreign students and workers temporary stay in the
United States. The number rose by more than 15,000 from the previous year. The idea of hope is what makes these places so powerful. The American Dream curated by Dale
Carnegie talks about working hard and achieving success. Same goes for any immigrant who is motivated to work in the United States.He/She wants to work hard and achieve a successful life for themselves and their family.Donald Trump may be tightening the entry
of foreign workers but he cannot break the spirits of pilgrims who attend these temple in the hope of living in a developed country and attaining the American dream.

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