Tamil Nadu Hindu temples - financial mismanagement by HR & CE since 1970s!!

Among the Indian states,  Tamil Nadu has the largest number of Hindu temples dedicated to Sri Vishnu, Sri Shiva, Sri Muruga (Karthikeya), God Ganapathi  and many goddesses like Mariamman, Durga, Bhavani, Kaliamman, etc. 

Rameswaram temple, TN .templedairy.in/

According to the government record Dec 2022 there are  more than 46,000 temple  under state control  of  The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department. They are  meant for the Hindus to fulfil their spiritual needs  as per  their religion  and cannot be treated as  the state government  property. But the state government thinks otherwise.

 Aptly called "the land of temples"  a preponderance of them are at least 800 years old and are not confined to to one particular region. They are scattered across the state covering lands that were once part of the Chola, the Pandya, the Pallava and part of Chera Nadu.   
According to an old adage in Tamil '' Kovil Ellatha Ooril Kudierrkka vendam'' - meaning ''Don't live in a place or where there is no temple (Kovil)''. Surprisingly, the presence of thousands of temples - both big and small is in agreement with the  old wise saying. 

The  then rulers of countless dynasties being pious and religious as they were   constructed these temples over centuries ago to cater to the religious needs of the temple. Apart, the huge temples with large  covered prakaras (corridors) could be used by the people in case of natural   calamities like flooding, etc. 

Many of the rulers ruled the  land and the people in the name of the primary deity of their capital. Bur HR & CE officials say the govt has every right to control the temples that were built by the past rulers for the public cause. Almost all Hindu temples in TN are illegally under the HR & CE, which according to the constitution, has the right to interfere and manage the erring temples temporarily until they set them right. 

 The HR & CE   sought for a review of a 2021 order of the Tamil Nadu government, which banned sale of landed properties of the temples across the state.

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department informed the Madras High Court that out of 44,121 temples under its control in the State, more 37,000 do not get enough revenue to appoint more than one person, who could double up as a priest besides being a caretaker,  and that 11,999 cannot afford expenses for performing even one puja a day.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha were told that there were only 7,000-odd financially stable temples which could take care of their needs from their own sources of revenue. Even among them, ''only 1,000 temples had surplus funds invested in banks in the name of the deity of the temple concerned'', HR&CE Joint Commissioner (Legal) S. Sivakumar said.

The Archakas, Poosaris and Bhattacharyas were either paid a monthly salary or were dependent on the public offerings (Thattu Kaasu). ''Some of them were also given a share in the ticket collections at the temples concerned. 'As for musicians, sweepers, torch bearers, their salary is fixed based on the financial resource and capacity of individual institutions and paid from the temple funds. The financial position of a majority of the temples in the State was very poor. The HR & CE in its counter mentioned about special assistance to priests poosaris and others''. However, the implementation of such schemes is questionable.  The priests in the village temples never get paid regularly and their pay is meager.  

HR & CE at many temples make money on many ways and  they never use it to pay the poosaris and priests in rural areas. In  February 2023 the Hindu Munnani condemned the Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments department for extorting collecting money from devotees allegedly in a unique and subtle  way at the famous  Arunachaleswarer temple in Tiruvannamalai.

In a press release by Hindu Munnani’s state general secretary Muruganandam, he said,” The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department aims to collect as much money as possible from temple visitors and has turned the temple into a place of business.''  They charge special fees under different categories like special darshan, quick darshan, VIP darshan, etc.  Assisted by middlemen, devotees are forced to cough up money to worship god. The sanctified places of worship have become money spinners for the govt. agency. This is true of many famous temples across TN including Uppiliappan Kovil near Kumbakonam, Palani temple, etc. This revenue plus hundial collections are used for non religious purposes. No amount goes to restore the damaged Hindu temples. HR & CE gets vast income from the temples and nobody knows where it goes and how it is being spent. A few days ago HR & CE is keen to grab the land - 70 plus acres at Parvathipuram, Vadalore, TN donated to the great Hindu saint  Ramalinga Swamigal who established the Thru Ganasabai; he lived centuries ago and the people donated the lands to him to provide annadhanam to the people regardless of castes. 

The ruling party, an offshoot of Dravida Kazhagam founded by late EV Ramaswami Naicker (a hardcore atheist and brahmin baiter)  recently tried to  secularize saint Vallalar by removing the sacred ash on his face in its releases and banners.  ''The present Dravidian  government is trying to erase the identity of Ramalinga Swamigal' according to countless followers of Vallalar Swamigal''. In the last two days infuriated people and certain political parties at Vadalore participated in the huge protests against the ruling government making inroad into the internal affairs of Hindu religious institutions and temples. The intention is to commercialize the  Sabha and siphon out the income.  The present government shows far less interest in the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu. Cronies around the CM take advantage of his lack of command over the party members. The gripe is the ruling government is for the corrupt Netas and not for the common people who suffer a lot more than 3 years ago.