Bengaluru: Should your offering to the Lord go to the shrine or the priest who does the puja and Mangalarati and hands over the holy prasad? To the shrine of course says the Muzarai (religious endowment department) which has in a recent circular banned offering of money to priests!
Oral instructions have even been given to all chief priests not to bring this issue to the media’s notice, said sources. Priests across the state are annoyed with the state government because of this and allege it is a regressive step.
Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, a priest at a reputed temple disclosed that the government give a measly honorarium of Rs 1,000 to each priest in all Muzarai-run temples.
“Almost all priests are dependent on money offered during Mangalarati. This is a routine among priests, collecting money during Mangalarati and distributing it among fellow priests. “This is how we managed our homes. With this circular, we cannot even touch this money. If we do not take this money, then how can we run our family,” a priest wondered.
According to him, even the sweeper or washerman (those who wash the deity’s clothes) and musicians get paid at least Rs 7,000 per month whereas the priest has to survive on a measly sum of Rs 1000.
The circular says all temples should install bold signboards in key locations to highlight the fact the money offered in the Mangalarati plate, has been going to the priest instead of being utilised for the temple’s development. The government wants to increase the revenue of temples but not that of priests and has taken this step, it said.
Speaking to this newspaper, a senior bureaucrat in the Muzarai department maintained that a section of priests are blowing a minor issue out of proportion as the rulebook suggests that the total collection (hundi) is annually divided in a 65:35 ratio between the state government and the temple committee.
“If the temple collection stands at Rs 100, Rs 65 goes to the state government and Rs 35 to the temple committee, which comprises of priests too. The amount will be used judiciously for the development of temples. There are over 35,000 temples across the state and not many of them are profitable. Therefore, if the collection from these Mangalarati plates is added to the collection box (Hundi) then we can definitely bring about a change,” the officer contended....