BENGALURU: The Karnataka government, which is considering allowing more special puja services in temples, is not keen on allowing ‘Anna Dasoha’, the daily free meals to devotees, at endowment temples anytime soon, due to the ongoing pandemic.
Karnataka temples are known for serving free meals – Kukke Subrahmanya, Annapoorneshwari Temple in Horanadu, Sharadamba temple in Sringeri, Dharmasthala Manjunatha Temple, Sri Krishna Temple in Udupi, and many more. A senior official from the endowment department told TNSE that in the first four months of this financial year, endowment temples generated revenue of only Rs 18 crore, as against Rs 300 crore last year.
This is because special pujas are not being held, including rathotsava, homas, tulabhara, abhisheka and others. Apart from darshan, most of these services have been stopped due to Covid norms, as they require human contact between archakas and devotees. Rohini Sindhuri, Commissioner, Department of Endowment, said Muzarai Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary has instructed them to prepare SOPs to open more seva services and submit them to the health department.
“Now that hotels and gyms are open, we are considering opening more puja services, other than darshan. But we might not allow all pujas. For instance, Sarpa Samskaara Puja at Kukke Subrahmanya is conducted in clusters. We don’t know if we can allow it at this juncture,’’ she said. On Anna Dasoha, she said that most of the temples that serve free food seat people in many rows. “It is not advisable to sit together without maintaining social distance. We might not allow this at least now,’’ she added.
The state has over 34,000 temples run by the endowment department, of which 175 are categorised as Class A (with annual income above Rs 25 lakh), 158 as Class B (annual income Rs 5-25 lakh) and the rest as Class C (income less than Rs 5 lakh). This apart, there are thousands of temples run by private trusts, organisations and individuals. Until the Covid-19 outbreak, most of the Class A temples and many Class B temples were serving thousands of free meals every day, twice a day.
On special occasions, the number of meals would run into lakhs. These temples had closed their doors to devotees, and only recently allowed public in, but with no special puja services.