The TDB is planning to auction lamps and utensils running into hundreds of tonnes.
It aims to raise huge funds from these donations lying idle in various temples across the state.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) in Kerala has decided to sell lamps and traditional brass utensils in the temples under its control to overcome a severe financial crisis faced due to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) in the country.
The TDB manages 1,248 temples including the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple, the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, the Haripad Sree Subrahmanya Temple, Ettamanur Mahadeva Temple, and the Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple, all of which draw a good number of devotees.
According to sources, the TDB is planning to auction lamps and utensils that had been donated by devotees. These donations, running into hundreds of tonnes, are lying idle in various temples across the state.
“There may be nothing wrong in selling these items donated by devotees but what happens with the money raised from such sales?” a devotee who lives near the Haripad Sree Subrahmanya Temple wondered.
The temple draws huge numbers of Skanda devotees and it is among the temples that gets huge amounts of money as offerings.
Devotees point out that the TDB has Rs 1,200 crore as fixed deposits and wonder what happens to the interests earned from them.
“The deposits can be broken and used now. All these can be recovered later when the devotees start thronging temples again,” the devotee said.
But some are sceptical if the sale will go through as a similar attempt in 2012 was dropped following protests from temple advisory committees. Even now, protests have cropped up.
The daily quoted TDB president N Vasu as saying that the board was looking at all possible ways to overcome the crisis.
“The board is trying to use the assets for raising fund instead of letting them remain unattended,” he said, adding that temples have been instructed not to put up for sale lamps and utensils that are regularly used.
Devotees point out that TDB had contributed Rs 10 crore towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund during the 2018 floods. The Guruvayur Devaswom Board, another trust that manages many temples in the state including the famous Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple, had also donated Rs 10 crore then.
Recently, the Guruvayur Devaswom Board donated Rs 5 crore to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Covid-19 Relief Fund. The money was raised from the interest the board gets on its fixed deposits.
The donations by these temple boards in 2018 as well as now have been challenged by a slew of petitions in the Kerala High Court, which has referred them to a larger bench.
The court has also told the Left Democratic Front government led by Communist Party of India (Marxist) that the donations would be subject to the outcome of the petitions with it.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government in Kerala says it does not utilise any temple funds, but critics argue the funds are used by the state in a roundabout way.