CHENNAI: The State Hindu Religious Charitable Endowments Department may boast of managing over 38,000 temples across the State – this staggering number albeit demands by few Hindu outfits to privatise the management of temples, but it appears there is no database on the pujaris (priests) who perform the pujas in various temples on a daily basis.
In Salem district for instance, there are totally 1,061 temples that don’t come under the ambit of the HR & CE. The plight of the department in not having comprehensive details on the number of priests came to light recently when P. Vasu, state president of Kovil Pusarikal Nalasangam, Salem, filed a RTI. He sought to know the number of priests archakas working at the temples managed by the Assistant commissioner of HR & CE, Salem. He was told that the department did not have such particulars.
“The petitioner can obtain information on the particulars available in the records. But the details sought by him is not available with this office. It’s not possible to provide the details by creating new records,” he was told in the reply.
Also, in the reply dated 29.12.2017, the official had stated that there was no record on how many temples in Salem lacked priests.
“This is the state of affairs. They manage thousands of temples but don’t seem to know how many priests work nor have their contact numbers,” Mr. Vasu told this correspondent.
Reacting, a senior HR & CE official said there are several thousands of temples across the State that still don’t come under the administrative control of the department. Temples with or without a pucca roof or those on the roadside too have priests who are engaged by locals. Even among the 38,000 temples, there are several thousands of shrines which are non-listed, the official explained.
Temples are classified and graded as per the income they generate on an annual basis....