Co-operative Mandirs

via J Ajith Kumar - published on January 6, 2010

There are hospitals, schools, colleges and all types of manufacturing & trading establishments in India under the co-operative sector. Then why not have a co-operative temple too? In a recent judgement, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala observed that most of the transactions taking place in a temple are commercial in nature and ruled that all temple employees, except Poojaris, come under the purview of the Industrial Dispute Act. This is a very good development. Our leaders must immediately seize the opportunity and proceed with setting up a few ‘co-operative mandirs’ that can trigger reforms in our society. Thousands of co-operative temples at village level and 600 odd Hindu Reform & Revival Centres (H2RCs) at district level can transform our society to ancient glory within a decade.

It is true that Hindu society is desperately in need of reforms and the mounting demographic pressure has accentuated this need. India, in general, and Hindu society, in particular, is made up of people who have highly varying interests with a whole lot of historical grievances pertaining to caste system. The religion itself is such that it is beyond integration beyond a limit. Large sections of our society are now caught between the devil of inability to organise and the deep sea of poverty. Multi National Religious Company (MNRC) executives are prowling around looking for ways to meet their yearly targets for harvest of souls. Only way out of this impasse’ is to activate ways and means for uplift of economic conditions of deprived sections of the society in novel ways. One definite way to do this is to go for a few co-operative temples at selected backward areas in the country.

Select any of the highly vulnerable tribal or backward areas in the country and register a co-operative society with most of the people in the locality for a token share value. With the money thus collected (and supplemented by country wide agencies) set up a temple in the name of the popular deity of the locality. An elected few of the co-op society can manage the affairs of the temple. But the most important point is to have the general body meeting of the temple co-operative society every month to approve the income & expenditure statement and distribute 50% of the income to all the eligible members. A sign board with the following information in the local vernacular must be put up in front of all such temples to declare the intentions and encourage everyone to donate liberally.

This is a Co-operative Temple
Our income will be distributed as follows:-
50% to current members of the co-operative society
25% will be spent for running the temple
25% reserved for future development
Please deposit your offerings in the designated place only
Do not tip the poojari or anyone for doing his/her work
Feel proud that you are contributing to distribution of common wealth by donating to this temple

If this co-operative experiment can succeed in a couple of places, I am sure it will catch on in the rest of the country. It can revolutionise the way we see our temples and democratise the running of temples. And most importantly, the stranglehold of any particular community on the affairs of places of worship will fade off for ever. Once again, temples can become an integral part of our daily lives and not mere monuments housing the omnipresent & omnipotent Gods shrouded in superstitious beliefs and rituals under the custody of a select few. And all of us will own at least part of a temple.

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