The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirupati, has kept its hundi (donation box) open to donations of the demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes from devotees. Recently, it opened a second box to facilitate such donations. TTD Board member, J. Sekhar said that there were no restrictions on pilgrims offering the old and demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes. The management had ‘no issues’ in depositing the people’s offerings into the TTD account. “Pilgrims offer whatever they can and want. There is no specific instruction on the demonetized currency”, he said. When asked if there was an exemption given by the government of India to TTD and the temple to accept the demonetized currency notes, Mr. Sekhar said, “This is not a point of debate since the hundi offerings are voluntary and cannot be treated as transactions”. However, the temple authorities are accepting only valid currency notes for other donations, payments for pujas, accommodation and worship. Read more on Demonetization
The Sri Venkateswara temple, the richest temples in the world! It had received a record collection of more than one thousand crores from donations of devotees, last year. Post the recent demonetization, the authorities had opened ten currency counters in association with Andhra Bank to enable pilgrims to exchange their demonetized currency notes for new ones, to meet expenses relating to accommodation, seva and prasadam. Mr. Sekhar said thousands of pilgrims, including some who were financially literate, came to the temple every day. “Some travel a long distance by road or rail to reach Tirumala. They may not be fully aware of the fact that we have opened special currency counters to serve pilgrims”. The second hundi was installed close to the existing one recently. Last year, out of the Rs. 2400 crores income what the temple got, 1,100 crores came as donations from the hundis! “A sizeable chunk of earnings go for health care, education, charity and pilgrim amenities. Earlier this year, the TTD approved its annual budget for 2016-17 with estimated revenue of Rs. 2,678 crore”, Mr. Sekhar said.
Ever since the demonetization of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes, people have been rushing to banks and ATMs to withdraw, deposit or exchange their money. Despite standing in long queues, some people have not been able to withdraw money from ATMs due to non – availability of cash! The Tirupati temple and devastanam keeping its hundi open for donations of the demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes is very good because not all devotes who wanted to donate large sums of money, would have been able to exchange them. The fact that it has opened ten special counters for devotees to exchange their demonetized currencies is an even better sign. Devotees who were planning to stay and do special poojas at the temple, but who did not manage to convert all their invalid currency notes, will now find it feasible to execute their plans. Even other people on one day visits, who want to exchange their demonetized currencies, can do so. It is very heartening to see that Mr. Sekhar and the TTD did not treat devotees’ offerings as transactions and are allowing them to deposit the demonetized Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes into the temple’s hundis. These steps taken by TTD are very godly acts that will preserve the sanctity of the Tirupati temple and prevent it from becoming commercialized. We wholeheartedly laud Mr. Sekhar and TTD for this selfless act because for God, devotion rather than devotee’s money is more important. Read more on Startup News