|Hindu temple Tamil Nadu. depositphotos.com/|
The following incidents of temple idol thefts, etc in Tamil Nadu etc have angered the Hindu population of this state. The reasons are many, but the fact is there are thousands of Hindu temples of great antiquity with no proper pujas, strong rooms for the priceless idols and most importantly lack of proper periodic repairs, etc. These temples' estates/properties need to be recovered from people abusing them and improving revenues that can be spent on improving facilities for the visiting devotees.
The Hindu date 18 Aug. 2018 mentioned: From 1920 to 2017, a total of 2,145 icons and 478 idols have gone missing from 803 temples. These numbers are based on complaints preferred by temple officials to the police. Of this only around 60 have been recovered, and 18 have been restored to temples. Around 390 idols belonging to 33 temples remain non-traceable. ''Special court for cases under Prevention of Corruption Act sentenced a joint commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR and department for two years’ rigorous imprisonment (RI) for demanding Rs 2 lakh to make provision in the scheme for appointment of non-hereditary trustees for the Arulmigu Aganda Thandu Mariamman temple at Choolai''. https://www.dtnext.in/News/City/2020/03/12012418/1219562/HR-and-CE-Joint-Commissioner-gets-twoyear-RI-for-demanding-.vpf
The following are the grievances of Hindu temple groups of Tamil Nadu :
01. The entire Hindu communities squarely blame the past governments both at center and state for the loss of thousands of Indian metal idols of gods and artifacts, not to speak of not correctly following the temple rituals and lack of transparency in the appointment of employees, including people with rationalistic orientation.
02. In the western society the govt and the church come under different entity. Politics should not get mixed with matters related to region.
03. The govt. has no rights over the places of Hindu worship and the estates owned by them, but they keep them under their control. They argue the administration of Hindu temples should be handed over to the Hindu groups
04. As for other religious groups like Christians and Muslims who come under the purview of minority, the govt does not control their places of worship and the language being followed for prayer. Nor do they lay their hands on the properties owned by them in the form of Trusts. They manage their affairs on their own effectively. No political interference in their cases.
05. Why does the HR & CE focus more on the famous and money-spinning temples and control them and the vast revenues.
There is no clear record on the gods' jewelry and silver vessels stored in the temples. Who is managing the valuable items in temples and how they are being managed and safe guarded against tampering or thefts? No proper checking of annual stocks of idols and other items in the temples. If they do have information on such items, why there is no transparency? The local people are entitled to know what the temples possess and how the estates are being managed by the officials. They should display such details in public.
06. Across India, with exceptions like Tirupathi Balaji temple or any other Hindu temples, most of them do not charge fees for pujas, fees for quick dharsan, etc.
07. At famous Tamil Nadu temples entrance fees, puja fees go up on important festival days as the temple would be over crowded. This means lots of money for the HR& CE. Such income is reported publicly.
08. The officials don't publicly announce the daily hundiyal collections (donations) either on weekly basis or fortnightly basis.
(a). At most of the Hindu temples the priests - either Shivachariars or Bhattacharyas get a monthly salary of less than Rs.2000.00 to rs.8000.00. This is also true of many pujaries who take care of certain temples in villages. These people take care of the sanctity of the temples by sweating in the air-tight sanctum for hours frequently doing pujas. Part of the collections on the plate (Thattu) goes to the staff and the part is shred by the priests.
(b). On the other hand a temple janitor or a peon gets more than Rs.15000.00 monthly salary.
09. As for senior officials, including Asst. Commissioners, they are provided with AC rooms and other facilities besides cars and other vehicles, free food, etc. The people in the public ask why this disparity? These temple officials get a salary of more than Rs.80,000.00 to 120,000.00 per month plus conveyance allowance, etc from the temple income. But the temple priests are working like sweat hogs in the Srikovil/grabagriga (sanctum) standing for long hours and they take home just peanuts to run their family.
10. Many temples own vast properties - cultivable agricultural lands, buildings and houses in urban and semi urban areas, etc. One estimate states the Tamil Nadu Hindu temples owned
more than 500000 acres of land and now are left with only 420000 to 450000 acres of land only.
11. It is said more than 60000 acres of lands in the villages and valuable plots in the cities, towns, etc are dubiously transferred to real estate barons and a large cut went to the middle men. 12. In towns and cities the temple buildings and shops are rented out to certain influential people at a cheap rate far below the market rate. They, in turn, take a large rent by subletting them to shoppers. If a person has just 4 to five shops in his family members' name, with big rent, imagine how much he would make per month after paying the nominal rent to the temple. This way, using the Hindu places of worship, exploitation is going on by certain people and they earn a big chunk without sweating it out.
13. For a pretty long time after 1970s the huge front temple halls had been converted into shops and the HR & CE collected monthly or yearly rent from shoppers. There was no proper audit account on the annual rental income from the temple.
14. A few years ago there was a fire mishap in the Meenakshi temple at Madurai in which several shops were gutted. This very much damaged the heritage stone pillars in the temple hall near the entrance gate. Upon protests from local people, the temple authorities do not run bazaars on many temple premises. It was a good decision taken by the govt. agencies.
15. The vast income from the temples went to the govt. coffers for other civic purposes. As for temple upkeep, etc, money is not allocated to improve temple facilities, though they do take care of some popular temples.
16. The Hindu groups ask the temple management: 01. Why have they not yet built educational institutions/ schools or hospitals to take care of the common people from the vast temple revenues? 02. What have they been doing ever since they took control of the Hindu temples in the 1960s? 03. Why are they not renovating thousands of historical Hindu temples that are in a dilapidated state? 04. Why are some senior employees treated like corporate executives with many perks, etc?.
17. The various Hindu temple protection organizations point out because of sheer negligence on the part of the officials, many valuable Iyempon (an alloy of five metals) metal idols dating back to several centuries are stolen from the temple to the illegal exporters of India' artifacts. They do not show interest in getting the stolen goods from the temple. This kind of apathy is quite worrisome.
18. At some temples a few unscrupulous officials dismantle a big hall in the name of repair or renovation and the steal centuries- old ornate and well carved stone pillars and columns and replace them with inferior ones. The ornamental pillar is taken out of temple for sale to art-work buyers. This novel theft of ornate temple pillars is of recent origin!!
19. The Hindu groups' grievances are about the appointment of people from other faiths in the Hindu temples. They neither know the temple Sastras, nor do they consult the authorities and act accordingly.
20. Each temple properties, income, etc must be audited annually by an independent auditing firm, but this 's done by govt accounts officers and they do not publish the anneal auditing reports on assets, revenues and expenses, etc.
21. Many historical temples are losing their heritage values because of poor planning of construction work, use of improper restoration methods and lack of skill to deal with delicate old sculptures. Further, such changes should be approved by the experts in Agama sastras. The decision making in this regard does not rest with HR & CE officials. In the case of some temples, officials close the sanctum for a day or two in the name of renovation. Yet another glaring mistake is lack of caution in dealing with delicate old stone images. A good example is Sri Villiputhur temple where high-pressure sand -blasting was used to clean the centuries old stone sculptures before Sambrokshanam (consecration) was done several years ago. Some stone images were partly damaged because of negligence on the part of workers.
22. Many people do say though many the govt. officials in the HR & CE in the state capital are honest about their work, they can not keep visiting the temples every now and then to check on the integrity of officials working in the temples. They depend on the local employees and when they make glaring mistakes, higher-ups in Chennai and others take the responsibility; sometime they earn people's fury!! 23. It is to be borne in mind such corrupt and dishonest people on the holy temple premises, besides spoiling their names and the state govt. as well, purposely engage in degrading or disrespecting the the divinity and sanctity of the places of worship. This way they hurt the sentiments of tens of millions of Hindus. Elderly people say such dirty people who cheat the innocent public will face the consequences one day as the saying goes: ''the mills of God grind, but slowly'' - '(in Tamil 'Deivam Nindra Kollum'' ).
Apathy, indifference and ignorance among Hindus besides lack of interest among them are the reasons why the Hindu temples are in a sorry state in TN where the past rulers were great temple builders.
HR & CE:
|HR & CE, TN. www.dtnext.in|
An harm was done after 1991 and since then, no religious and spiritual leaders have been allowed to interfere in the maintenance and administration of the Hindu Temples and Charitable Endowments. The Hindus, of late, are of the view that the officials act on their own relegating old traditions, agama rules, etc to the back. Now at stake are our ethos, Hindu culture and old tradition. The slow degradation of temple arts and sculptures owing to poor management is a matter of deep concern. Revenues from the vast number of temples go to the govt. to take care of other social problems and not for restoring and saving thousands of Hindu temple rotting in many places. The act controls 36,425 temples, 56 mutts or religious orders (and 47 temples belonging to mutts), 1,721 specific endowments and 189 trusts.
https://en.wikipedia.org / wiki/Hindu_Religious_and_Charitable__Endowments_Department