TTD reinstates retired priests
Ramana Deekshitulu is set to return as chief priest of the famous hill shrine, hereditary priests thank CM Jagan for honouring the temple’s ancient tradition
VIJAYAWADA: The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has issued orders reinstating all the Pradhana Archakas / Archakas (Chief Priests/Priests) belonging to the Mirasi families, who were forcibly retired in May 2018 under the previous TDP regime by the then TTD Trust Board which fixed a retirement age for them. As per the orders issued Friday, all the priests, who are similarly situated and retired under the controversial decision in May 2018, will be restored to their earlier respective positions. The orders were issued as per the High Court judgement delivered in December, 2018.
With this, Dr AV Ramana Deekshitulu will return as the chief priest of the famous hill shrine. Members of the Gollapalli, Peddinti, Tirupathamma and Paidipalli families have been serving at the Tirumala temple for generations on hereditary basis. What the controversial decision of the board under the TDP regime did was to do away with the hereditary system in a way by fixing retirement age for them.
The same was challenged in the high court the same year by two priests, Seshadri and Murali, who were forcibly retired. In its verdict, the high court had held the TTD decision fixing retirement age for hereditary priests unconstitutional and ruled that hereditary priests belong to a special category intended as custodians of a temple’s customs and traditions, and cannot be treated as normal employees.
However, the court order was not implemented at the Tirumala temple. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was at the time in the opposition, had promised to restore the hereditary priests if he was voted to power. In line with his promise, the State government had last year issued orders restoring hereditary archakas at all the temples but the same could not be implemented in Tirumala as it is governed by TTD rules. Dr AV Ramana Deekshitulu, however, was appointed as Agama advisor and honorary chief priest.A few days prior to the TTD’s latest order, several priests from Tirumala had met Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.