Saturday, June 11, 2011

Who will care these Temples??

The above file picture of Kamarasavalli Temple in dilapidated state was taken by one Alexander Ria in 1892 and the situation is no way better now. In fact it has deteriorated further.It should be an eye opener for HR &CE board which controls such rural temples and remain as a silent spectator for many decades.

The Hindu Religious Endowment Board was formed as a Govt Dept to regularise the income due to the Temples from Endowments & Charities and protect their assets. When numerous surveys are made to know the pulse of the public, it is strange to find that the survey on the performance of HR&CE dept has never been held.The authorities know very well that the survey will expose the anger and dissatisfaction of the devotees. As many as 30000 temples are brought under the control of the dept., hardly few hundreds may be in good shape because of public sponsorships and large number of visitors. Some temples collect lakhs of rupees during festival time and the collected money goes to Govt Treasury , thus creating opportunities for spending it for non religious activities also. There seems to be no controlled procedure to regulate the spending ways. Hence it becomes highly subjective while granting assistance to financially backward temples.

The focus of the board is clearly on the rich temples. Apart from keeping Hundi, the huge number of visitors are made to pay for Dharshan etc. The special Dharshan tickets are issued with denominations such as Rs 50, 500 and so on. The board may claim that they have provided amenities for the pilgrims. People stand in long queue for hours to see the glimpse of the Deity. All irregularities do happen when "VIPs" and other known persons make their presence.
Encroachments of Temple Lands and Tanks are not uncommon. The board takes legal action here and there and do not tighten the belt to apply it to each temple it controls. The executive officers appointed by the board rarely visit all temples coming under them and are confined to the major temple from where they work. In the absence of regular visits, the poor temples are totally neglected and anti socials take advantage of the situation. The leased Temple lands are being enjoyed fully by the tenants and the temples are entirely deprived of any income. Priests of these temples are not given regular monthly salary which is already very poor.
Poojas are held once in a day in these rural temples and that too erratic. People residing close to the temples present a blind eye to the issue as if it is not their problem. It is therefore left to the philanthropists of other places to come to the rescue of village temples.

Many Temples coming under the management of Mutts , Zamindars and private parties also present bad governance. The recent visit to Anaikudi,near Kumbakonam where a huge temple is maintained by the local Zamindar supports this view. The temple is kept closed and the pujas are irregular. Weeds/trees are seen at the entrance and cracks are seen on the brick wall. Even after repeated requests, the Zamindar refused to open the temple, citing bad health as reason. He does not understand how disappointed the visitors are when he refuses to oblige.The Temple tank is also poorly maintained as it is almost covered by vegetation.

Thiruneelakkudi, near Aduthurai has two temples for Lord Shiva. The one sung in Thevaram is in good shape and the other one is wholly ignored. A very huge tree is rooted to the Vimanam and poses grave danger to the entire structure. Ambal sannadhi is also in a pathetic state. The deity is also not seen inside. Devakoshta devathas are also missing. People feel that the local president may take up the renovation job.

Kollumangudi is another tiny village on Mayiladuthurai-Thiruvarur road where we find a Shiva temple in shambles. A well carved Nandi is seen in the Prakara , facing the Lord. Well grown trees are seen on the vimanams of Kasi Viswanatha and Visalakshi. Since the Temple is very small in size, renovation can be taken up immediately in order to save it from further damage.

Another neglected Temple is seen on the way to Peralam where the locals said that the name of the Lord was Swayambunathaswamy. The Temple is kept closed and nobody seems interested to keep it open. They were told not to ignore the Historic Treasure left to them by their ancestors. We keep our fingers crossed as we do not know whether our message has touched their hearts.

Under these circumstances, the devotees question the continuation of HR & CE board as it is no longer helpful to the poor temples and the employees. Hence the Govt can either allot enough funds for the renovation and maintenance of rural temples or dissolve the Board and hand over the shrines to the local committees who believe in God.