Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hindu Temples in Tamilnadu in HR&CE control

As most naive Hindus, people think the money to pay in Hindu temples go for the upkeep and maintenance of these temples. Here is an eye-opener based on what I have heard from reliable sources:

1. HR&CE does not pay any salary to the archakar swami of big and popular temples. The archakas make a living from the money people contribute on the plate when they show the harathi to the public. Essentially this means, they live off of tips and do not get a regular salary from the temple.  In village side temples the archarkar swami, paricharakar (reponsible for offering prasadam to the Lord) and cook (responsible for cooking the prasadam for the Lord) are respectively paid a small token salary (usually not more than Rs.1000 per month). This salary is paid by the HR&CE irrespective of whether any money has been collected from the temple or not. In these temples as well, all the money that you put in the plate when the archakar comes around, goes to him exclusively. This has been the case historically since known. However, this is really not much. Therefore archakas of villages continue to live in poverty with hardly any money to provide for their children's education and therefore needless to say - they do not want their children to join this profession! At the present rate, do not be surprised if tomorrow temples become "Self-service" only! Without even one time a day pooja, will temples continue to retain their sanctity? Of course HR&CE will continue to do its duty of opening the temples and closing them at the appointed hours.  There may be no pooja, no archana, no offering of neivdyam or prasadam to the Lord....

2. In many temples the HR&CE provides limited materials for the temple kitchen (thiru mada palli) to cook the prasadam for the Lord.  Many of these kitchens have not been modernized and continue to use centuries old vessels for cooking. Some generous people have also contributed vessels (with their names imprinted or painted on them.)

3. Special events conducted at the temples like the "Car Festival", Brahmotsavam, Pavitrotsavam, and other utsavams are exclusively conducted from sponsorship by general public. If no contributions - the utsavams are not conducted. Please be aware that if you decide to sponsor an event from your personal savings, you will have to pay a tax of 16% on the contribution to the Government!

4.  All the money that you have contributed in the Hundi, buying archana ticket, special darshan ticket, sponsoring abhishekam or thirumanjanam or other procedures (for which the HR&CE has rate cards in almost all temples - both in the city and village-side) goes exclusively to the state exchequer. They may or may not be used to fund welfare of Hindus. Some of these funds may be used by the state exchequer to fund the "freebies" program they promise during elections! There is no stopping them.  Some of the money may be used to for welfare of non-Hindu communities as well.  Only the State can answer how it uses the funds.

5. Electrification and modernization of temples are taken up from time to time based on interest conveyed by individuals. Some EO's take a cut from these individual contributions. A classic story goes - a private trust wanted to take up the painting of the outside walls of a village-side temple and said it was ready to spent up to one lakh on that activity. The EO asked them, what's in it for much will you pay me for allowing to take up this activity. Sometimes, when the HR&CE attempts to take up such modernization on its own effort they have only caused damage to structures, mural paintings, etc.

God save the Hindu temples from HR&CE!