FAITH IN­TER­RUPTED

Col­lec­tions at Tiru­pati are on the de­cline. Is the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil in Andhra Pradesh to blame?

India Today - - RELIGION - by Amar­nath K. Menon Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter@ AmarnathK Menon

Could it be a sud­den deficit in faith, or is it a re­flec­tion of a stag­nant econ­omy? Or could it be the pro­posed bi­fur­ca­tion of the state? No one is cer­tain about the rea­sons, but devo­tees and of­fer­ings at the world’s rich­est Hindu tem­ple at Tiru­pati in Andhra Pradesh have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly in re­cent months. Cash col­lec­tions from of­fer­ings in the tem­ple’s hundi ( till) were Rs 63.41 crore in Au­gust 2011, Rs 77.59 crore in Au­gust 2012 but a mere Rs 60.13 crore in Au­gust this year. The fall in Septem­ber is feared to be steep with the col­lec­tions still be­ing counted. If this trend con­tin­ues through Oc­to­ber, the fund flow is ex­pected to im­pact the Rs 2,248.05 crore bud­get of Tirumala Tiru­pati Dev­asthanam ( TTD), man­agers of the tem­ple, for 2013- 14.

There is a cor­re­spond­ing de­cline in foot­falls of at least 15,000 on nor­mal days, and at least 25,000 on the so­called “busy” days. “If this con­tin­ues, at­ten­dance dur­ing the Brah­mot­savam ( an­nual fes­ti­val) will be af­fected,” ad­mits M. G. Gopal, a se­nior IAS of­fi­cial who is TTD’S ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer. The nine­day fes­tiv­i­ties start on Oc­to­ber 5 this year, when there is usu­ally a big­ger rush and scram­ble for dar­shan.

Gopal points out that the fall in col­lec­tions is upto Rs 50 lakh a day this year. In bet­ter years, cash of­fer­ings range be­tween Rs 1.50 crore and Rs 2 crore a day. The record for hundi of­fer­ings on a sin­gle day is a stag­ger­ing Rs 5.73 crore on April 1, 2012. Such a sharp in­crease is at­trib­uted to large sin­gle do­na­tions by devo­tees.

Cash of­fer­ing in the hundi, the prin­ci­pal source of in­come for TTD, is to ac­count for Rs 859 crore this year. The other ma­jor source— in­ter­est on in­vest­ments— brings in Rs 555.20 crore. The sale of hu­man hair of­fered by devo­tees by auc­tion is to fetch Rs 200 crore, the

seeghra dar­shan and other spe­cial en­trance tick­ets to fetch another Rs 185 crore, while the pop­u­lar laddu and other blessed take­aways yield another Rs 150 crore. Rooms rented out to devo­tees add Rs 90 crore to TTD’S an­nual earn­ings. Gold and sil­ver of­fer­ings made ev­ery day also con­trib­ute to its riches. Gold hold­ings with TTD to­tal a stag­ger­ing 6,500 kg, and are es­ti­mated to be worth about Rs 2,000 crore.

Ever since the July 30 an­nounce­ment by the Cen­tre carv­ing up Andhra Pradesh, and the sub­se­quent dis­rup­tion in pub­lic trans­port in the state by pro­test­ers, in­tra- state travel, par­tic­u­larly to Tiru­pati, has be­come in­con­ve­nient. This could have re­duced the flow of pil­grims. TTD is hop­ing this year’s spe­cial at­trac­tion for Brah­mot­savam — a golden char­iot for the de­ity— will make a dif­fer­ence.

TIRU­PATI’S GOLDEN CHAR­IOT

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.