Non-Hindus to sign faith form to enter Tirumala temple in Andhra Pradesh
31/07/2012 00:27:48 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/non-hindus-to-sign-faith-form-to-enter-tirumala-temple-in-andhra-pradesh/1/210621.html
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the affairs of the country's richest temple of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, has now banned the entry of all non-Hindus into the temple, if they do not declare their faith in Lord Venkateshwara, the presiding deity.
The decision was taken by the TTD at a meeting on Thursday, apparently in the wake of recent controversy over the entry of YSR Congress Party president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, a devout Christian, into the Tirumala temple without bothering to sign the register declaring his faith in the Lord despite repeated appeals by the temple authorities. Jagan's indifferent attitude in respecting the tradition has raised a lot of heat and dust in political and religious circles and the TTD authorities had to face the wrath of Hindu organisations, besides political parties for allowing a Christian into the temple, in spite of he deliberately flouting the traditions.
According to TTD joint executive officer K S Srinivasa Raju, non-Hindus must necessarily sign the declaration form at the Vaikuntam queue complex before having the darshan of the Lord. Though the practice had been in vogue for several decades, it was only followed as a tradition and not a rule by only those who volunteered to give the declaration.
Now, the TTD authorities have made it compulsory as per the government order (GO MS No. 311 of AP Revenue Endowments-1) under Rule no. 16. "It is now a mandatory rule for all those belonging to various faiths other than Hinduism to sign a declaration form before entering the hill temple stating that they have faith in the presiding deity," Raju said.
For the convenience of devotees, the declaration forms would be available at all sub-enquiry offices, besides the Peshkar and JEO's office.
The TTD also took a serious note of the attempts by certain people representing evangelist organisations to propagate Christianity on the Tirumala hills. Last week, the TTD vigilance authorities caught red-handed three TTD employees who were in possession of literature, CDs and pictures pertaining to Christianity. The employees were found to be clandestinely propagating Christianity among the pilgrims coming from different parts of the country. The TTD authorities transferred them to the head office in the Tirupati down the sacred hills.
In the last one week, the TTD authorities made extensive study of the background of the people working on the Tirumala hills in various capacities. It is learnt that at least 100 persons, including a few employees and contract workers of the TTD, were from other religions. A few months ago, the TTD authorities caught three hotel workers staying in staff quarters right behind the temple having pictures and literature belonging to other religions. They were arrested and sacked from the jobs.
"We will take serious action against those indulging in preaching of other religions on Tirumala hills. Right now, the vigilance authorities are making thorough searches to weed out the people of other faiths on the hills," TTD executive officer L V Subrahmanyam said.