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The HJS has taken some steps to rectify the misuse of funds by the Government as follows.
- For 4 months, on every Tuesday evening, HJS held demonstrations at the Siddhivinayak Temple gate.
- Signature drive to gather the opinion in favour of HJS’ course of action is in full swing even now.
- Difficulties faced by devotees and their justifiable demands have been collected and placed before the temple trust.
On the backdrop of politicians looting public funds, the Siddhivinayak Temple Trust organized a ‘Temple Summit’ in a Seven Star hotel and the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti protested, called for cancellation of the Summit and handing over of the trust to a council of devotees. The Samiti carried out a signature campaign on 27th January and a Dharna from 8.30 am to 1 pm. at the Summit venue. The Samiti organised a Black Flag Protest at the venue of the Summit on 28th January 2006 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The local print-media gave wide coverage to HJS’ efforts. The Samiti requested the organisers to allot some time in the Summit to communicate the feelings of devotees and Samiti’s views on ‘Temple tourism’. But they paid no heed.
HJS demands an explanation for misuse of Temple funds
The HJS demanded that the Temple Trust money misused should be compensated fully by the Government.
Issues of Importance to the HJS
Some of HJS’ demands are related to basic policy decisions of the Govt. hence, they have not been discussed here. The HJS has expressed its views in a letter to Hon’ble Union Minister for Tourism.
- Individuals involved in the decision making process of any temple be a Hindu by belief and should have faith in Hindu scriptures. Temples will not accept authorities foisted, having faith in some other religion.
- Donations received by Hindu Temples shall always be kept separate and shall not be taken by the Government Exchequer.
- Major share of the offerings shall be used for Temple Administration and Maintenance, education and propagation of Hindu Dharma and Hindu scriptures, maintenance and rejuvenation of the temples in the nearby areas.
- Temples should be engaged in propagation and teaching of Sanskrit for common people. Sanskrit is said to be the Mother of all Indian languages. This is the language of the Holy Scriptures of the Hindus and considered to be the most scientific; yet is stated by many people in this country as a dying language. Hence, temples will do everything possible for the growth and spread of this language so that future generation of Hindus will study their scriptures in their original language.
- Taking into account the overall image of Hindu temples in the society and the Government’s credibility in managing public money, after an expose’ that Sree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust has allegedly paid money to Institutes controlled by politicians, arranging a summit at a Seven star hotel is a very serious matter. Sponsorship cannot be an excuse to spend donations indiscriminately. Such an act exposes the callous attitude of the State Administration. If the devotees learn of this mal-utilisation of their donations, it could lead to disastrous consequences.
- Hindu Temples should be managed on the basis of faith (Shradhaa) at its core. A concept of ‘temple tourism’ implemented without due consideration to this aspect will be damaging to the very concept of a temple in Hinduism.
Signature Campaign and Feelings of Devotees
The devotees voiced their feelings during the Signature Campaign. Apart from some local issues, following were the important observations:
- The devotees were very angry and disturbed about siphoning off of temple funds by the politicians. Obviously their concern arose out of various reports in local newspapers and national level news channels about Sree Siddhivinayak Temple Trust giving away donations to institutes run by state politicians, many a time violating rules. The Petition is said to be in final stages of hearing in the Mumbai High Court.
- They were disturbed because of the discriminatory treatment in the temples. Those who have money and influence can take darshan conveniently and for unlimited time, while a common devotee has to wait for hours.
- They wanted temples to do something concrete to propagate and impart education on Hindu Dharma.
- Many stated that the Temple funds should not be utilised for welfare of politicians and holy places of other religions.
- Some voiced their concern over developing Temple tourism, as it would bring all the ills of tourism culture with it in all facets of Temple Management and around the temples.
- Everyone was very critical of arrangements for the Summit in a Seven Star Hotel.
At the conference, the committee did not air devotees’ objections even for 5 minutes. Two letters were addressed to the Union Minister for Tourism, voicing the protest and listing objections. Let alone the replies, there wasn’t even an acknowledgment of the letters.
What can the devotees do at this juncture?
- Spread the message through the media and also write directly to Temple Trust.
- Address your grievances to the CM and Home Minister of Maharashtra, marking copies to HJS.
- Join the demonstrations and show solidarity with the HJS.
By creating awareness amongst the masses, you will be doing service unto Sree Siddhivinayak. Therefore, devotees are requested to join HJS demonstrations and to save our temples and culture, so dear to us.