Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Hindu Priests Want Endowments Department Scrapped
June 18, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 17: A group of Hindu priests is currently on a padayatra demanding that the Endowments department be scrapped for "better management" of temples in the State.
The temple priests have already covered 3200 km of padayatra covering 11 districts in the State. The priests have come up with the strange demand that the endowments department be abolished after their fight against temple lands encroachments failed to yield the desired results. They believe that the department has been creating hurdles in removal of encroachments and improvement in facilities at various temples.
"The department has been responsible for the encroachment of 1.25 lakh acres of prime lands belonging to different temples. It has also failed to provide minimum wages for temple priests. While imams in mosques and fathers in churches are paid handsome salaries, temple priests are paid a pittance," says Kamal Kumara Swamy, general secretary of Hindu Devalaya Parirakshana Samithi (Hindu Temples' Protection Committee).
Kumara Swamy is leading the padayatra of temple priests and plans to complete the second round of the agitation by visiting the remaining temples in the State. For this he and his team of priests need to visit 12 districts covering another 3,200 km.
As many as 8,000 temples have no money to perform the daily mandatory poojas. The endowment department is supposed to provide funds to these temples, but has failed in its task, he says. These temples form part of the 34,500 temples under the control of the department.
The priests have been mobilising support from people for the closure of the department. He told this correspondent that the temples in the State had functioned properly before the endowments department was created. "It was indeed a golden period. After the department was carved out, the trouble began for temples and priests alike," he said.
The State has 80,000 and odd temples with 4.17 lakh acres of land attached to them. The second phase of the yatra will begin on August 6.
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