Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Makeover of a temple

I just don't get it. Yesterday the newspaper carried an article which said that the entire sanctum sanctorum of the Tirupati Balaji temple is to be gold plated. This is a huge scheme estimated to cost around Rs.1000 crores. The article claims that this amount of money is to be generated by the temple's internal revenue and gold donations. It goes on to say that since the project was inaugurated a few weeks back there has been a steep rise in gold donations not only by business tycoons, charitable trusts etc but also by ordinary devotees who offer their gold ornaments.

I am too a religious (or must I call myself spiritual) person. I visit temples though not every other day and do like it too. I strongly believe that religious sentiments are purely personal. I can accept the fact that temples spend a considerable amount in renovation work in trying to reduce chaos and confusion within the temple premises and so as to ensure a safe and fulfilling pilgrimage. But I don't see why seeing a gilded temple would make people feel more pious.

I'm not in favour of squandering money meaninglessly in gold plating the temple. Why is this sort of gold plating necessary? I do not believe that the Gods would have insisted that temples be adorned with gold and diamonds. Nor do I believe that a true devotee would see the need for it. But as always, this is my opinion. I'm sure I'd have a lot of people opposing my standpoint. If anyone is able to figure out the intent behind this adornation, please enlighten me.


  1. I agree to you saritha. When my church in home town was rennovated, I saw lot of such stuff done. A foreigner told me with the kind of money we spend on one church they cud have ten churches, we also had paintings and sculptures in olden days, I call that craftsmanship or aesthetics but Gold and teak and chandeliers beats me. I heard some people say imported statues creates more atmosphere than Indian ones hows that? And guess what a demolition of any such building can create bigger riots than it would when you hear the number of people dying of hunger or taking up flesh trade..... oops u touched upon an old nerve :)

  2. liked the subject n the comment too :))

  3. I agree with you completely Sari and Teena. Lets take Golden Temple for example. An imposing edifice built with the donations of 10 per cent of the income of the 'sevaks' (volunteers) and a donation of 100 KG of gold by a contemporary Sikh king. The security of the monument takes a huge sum. The building is covered with the copper sheets plated with gold. The inside of the domes of the monument are laid with semi precious stones, frescoes and glasswork.

    But there is one thing which I appreciate about the gurudwaras in general, they server langar (meals) to the people. And specifically Golden Temple serves meals to about a lakh of people per day that too round the clock. All the expenses are borne by the gurudwara prabandhak committee which comes out of the offerings by the devotees, it not only manages the funds but the manpower for cooking and serving comes from volunteers.

    Isn't it amazing that India is a land of temples. People gives offerings to the temples to serve the needy and as we can see some of the temples are doing the job well. If you happen to get a chance, sneak a peak at the websites of Akshardhaam and ISKCON. It is a chain of temples run by a spiritual organisation which works as an NGO in London and it is amazing that they generate over 10,000 Million US$ monthly but I am unaware of any sort of charity work being done by the organisation.

    Some professor in CDS once suggested to do research on the temple economy of India and I think I should have excelled in a research topics like that where I have umpteen examples especially in India.