CM Chandrababu Naidu stalls TTD decision to close down Tirupati temple for six days

An officer of the temple’s trust board said they are considering allowing darshan for pilgrims for four to five hours every day during the six-day ritual.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2018 19:10 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Chandrababu Naidu,Tirupati Temple,Tirumala temple
The TTD had taken a decision to close the temple of Lord Venkateshwara in Tirumala for six days from August 11 to 16.(PTI file photo)

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has called for allowing a limited number of devotees to visit Triputi’s Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temples during the shrine’s proposed closure for once-in-12-year cleansing ritual in August amid opposition to the first such move.

He has asked the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which administers the world’s richest Hindu temple, to curtail the number of devotees during Ashta Bandhana Balalaya Maha Samprokshanam in a manner that the ritual is not disturbed like on previous occasions.

“It is not fair on the part of the TTD Trust Board to expect the devotees to wait for days together,” a source in Naidu’s office quoted him as saying.

Naidu’s suggestion comes amid opposition to the closure move from pilgrims on the social media and resistance from Hindu seers.

The state government appoints the board. The chief minister can give directions to the board on issues concerning the pilgrims. But the board is authorised to take its decisions like it did in case of the proposed closure.

TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal said a meeting has been convened on July 24 to take a decision on keeping the temple open during the ritual.

“We are considering allowing darshan for pilgrims for four to five hours daily during the six-day ritual,” he said.

The TTD had announced the closure from August 11 to 16 during its meeting on Saturday.

It was decided there would be no darshan of the deity and that pilgrims would not be allowed to climb up Tirumala hills either by foot or by road from August 9 to avoid a rush.

This is the first proposal ever to close to temple to devotees.

Hindu seer Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswati of Sri Sarada Peetham suspected a conspiracy behind the closure.

“As per the Agama (prescribed in Hindu scriptures for the procedures to be followed in temples on different occasions) rules, devotees can witness the temple cleansing process and have the darshan of the presiding deity. The TTD authorities should have consulted heads of various Hindu mutts and peethams,” he said in a statement.

Opposition YSR Congress lawmaker R K Roja alleged the trust’s decision had lent credence to the suspicion retired head priest AV Ramana Deekshitulu had expressed that the authorities had siphoned off treasure hidden under the temple in December 2017 on the pretext of repairs in its kitchen.

“Now, the authorities are trying to close the temple for six days. They are learnt to have decided to switch off even the closed-circuit TV cameras. This has confirmed the suspicion that the authorities are planning to loot the temple treasure,” she alleged.

Ruling Telugu Desam Party leader and TTD Trust Board chairman Putta Sudhakar Yadav insisted there was no truth in the allegations and the rumours being spread on the social media. “Our earlier decision to dispense with darshan to pilgrims from August 11 to 16 was in the larger interest of pilgrims as we can allow darshan for hardly 30 hours during the six-day period of religious ceremony,’’ he said.

“We cannot allow over 15,000 pilgrims a day in the available time. Our chief aim behind the previous decision was to avoid inconvenience and hardship to pilgrims.”

The temple is believed to have been the abode of Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, for over 5,000 years.

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 16:59 IST