BENGALURU: For archaks, work is worship, literally. With the closure of temples for almost two months taking a toll on them, archaks have appealed to the government to reopen places of worship to help them earn their living.
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). There are also thousands of temples run by private trusts, organisations, and individuals.
Archaks of Class A and B temples have fixed salaries, while those working in Class C and non-endowment temples are largely dependent on offerings from devotees. Only Class A temples and a few others where regular pujas are held have remained open, without allowing devotees.
Another archak, who did not wish to reveal his identity, said Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced relief for autorickshaw drivers, dhobis, barbers, and others. “Why have they not included us? Why ignore us? We do not protest or block roads,” he said. He said archaks are ready to use safety measures such as using sanitiser, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
Endowment minister Kota Srinivas Poojary, however, said that he “is not thinking of allowing temples to reopen right now. If they are allowed to open, it will be difficult to maintain social distancing. Archaks will be given ration kits and money like others,’’ he said.