The Tamil Nadu government has asked 47 temples to donate total of rupees 10 crores to the CM Relief Fund to fight Chinese coronavirus. But on the hand, the state government has ordered the distribution of 5,450 tonnes of free rice to 2,985 mosques of the state on April 16 in the month of Ramzan, so that those who were keeping Rojas would not suffer. This rice at Rs 21/kg will cost the Tamil Nadu government little over Rs 11 crore.
At a time, when the struggle to free the temple administration from the clutches of the government is intensifying, the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department(HR and CE) of the Tamil Nadu government has set aside 47 temples in addition to the amount earmarked for taking care of poor. CM Relief Fund has directed temples to provide an additional 10 crores.
BJP requests free food distribution in temples
BJP’s Tamil Nadu President L Murugan on Saturday urged the AIADMK government to resume Annadanam(serving food to the hungry) in temples maintained by the Hindu religious and charitable endowment department in the state to provide food to the poor and sadhus. Murugan said that the government has respected the pleas of the people of the Muslim community and allocated free rice for Ramzan dinner.
The main reason for the Tamil Nadu government’s criticism of this directive is also that it has not been given to Christian and Muslim institutions that receive grants from government annually. Earlier the Madras High Court had rejected petition, refusing to interfere with the Tamil Nadu government order to distribute free rice to mosques in the month of Ramzan.
For this the bench set aside the Supreme court statement in which the apex court had said that the government was not opposed to the idea of providing any pilgrimage support to any community. For example, the government had mentioned the cost of Kumbh and helping Indian citizens in their Mansarovar pilgrimage. However, the bench did not mention what to do with the government’s decision in such a situation when temples are closed due to coronavirus lockdown?
47 Temples of the state are under control of HR and CE
HR and CE secretary K Panindra Reddy directed all the officials working under him in 47 temples including Madurai, Palani, Thiruchendur, Tirutani, Thiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, and Mayilapur to contribute a surplus amount of 35 lakhs to feed the poor due in the lockdown. Other temples have been directed to pay from 15 lakh rupees to 25 lakh rupees. All 47 temples have to pay a surplus fund of 10 crore to CM Coronavirus relief Fund.
It is noteworthy that HR and CE manage 36,612 temples in Tamil Nadu. These temples are renewed/protected and restored by the surplus funds. A lot of priests depend entirely on donations from devotees. They are now stranded and facing starvation due to the coronavirus epidemic and the nationwide shutdown. The state government instead of helping them, has targeted the property of Hindu temples to pursue appeasement politics.
At the beginning of the festival of Ramzan, the Tamil Nadu state government announced a major benefit to Muslims. The late CM Jayalalithaa had started it as appeasement politics. Tamil Nadu government had announced that 5,450 tonnes of rice would be given to 2,895 mosques this year for preparing porridge.
Unlike Muslims, Hindus don’t get anything in festivals
No similar help or plan is given to prepare offerings to the village deities of Hindus during Chaitra and other months. The Tamil Nadu government collects more than Rs 3000 crore per year from Hindu temples through Handi collection, offerings, darshan tickets, special program fees, etc., while only Rs 4-6 crores are given for maintenance. Rest 2,995 crore rupees remain with the government.
At the same time, Srivilliputhur Vaishnavit Math Chief Sadgopa Ramanuj Jiyar urged the Tamil Nadu government to spend the temple money to give to the priests and servants. Dr. Krishnaswamy, the head of Puthia Tamizhagam has appealed to the CM to refund the amount of Rs 10 Crores received from the temples.