International Temple Summit

Abuse of Siddhivinayak Devotees’ Money

An ‘International temple summit’ was held on 28th and 29th January 2006 at a Seven star Hotel Grand Central Sheraton, Mumbai. This summit was hosted by Sree Siddhivinayak temple trust and it was said that delegates attended the summit from 26 major temples all over the country and Sree Pashupatinath temple, Katmandu, Nepal. This ‘Seven Star summit’ was called an ‘International summit’ just because a representative of one temple outside India i.e. Nepal was amongst the delegates.

Temples as Tourist Spots!

Managing a temple as a tourist spot will bring in and inculcate crude commercialization and well-known ills of tourism development around the temple. Arranging a temple summit at a seven star hotel is an example of this attitude. The management of Sree Siddhivinayak temple in a brochure of the temple summit boasted that it had found a novel solution for disposal of ‘Nirmalya by converting it in to bio manure! Only those with no knowledge of the Science in Hindu rituals will have such solutions!

Sree Siddhivinayak temple trust is already in the news for siphoning of donations by politicians. There is one PIL (Public Interest Litigation) pending with the Mumbai High Court. Post the PIL, it arranged a temple summit in a seven star hotel. The Hindu Janajagruti Samiti demanded that such abuse of devotee’s money be stopped immediately.

Donations Fund the Temple Extravaganza!

Further, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti found out (under the Right To Information Act) what was spent by the Sree Siddhivinayak trust on the extravaganza called ‘International temple summit’.

Spent on Amount(Rs.)
Accommodation 7,24,990
Lunch and Dinner 6,73,312
Traveling 2,39,022
Extra traveling expenses 42,500
Music show 31,000
Publicity and Decoration 4,35,032
  • Delegates were accommodated in the 7 star facility for which a rent of Rs. 7,24,990/- was paid
  • Lunch and Dinner expenses amounted to a stunning Rs. 6,73,312/-
  • Traveling expenses were a staggering Rs. 2,39,022/-
  • Extra traveling expenses, in an air-conditioned van amounted to Rs. 42,500/- (When the summit and accommodation were under one roof, what was the reason for this expenditure?)
  • Rs. 31,000/- were spent on a Music show.
  • Of the total expense for the summit, half the amount was spent on eating, resting and traveling. (Does this not make one feel that representatives of Hindu temple trusts across the country behave like Raja-Maharajas at the cost of devotee’s faith?)

Further, look at the following abuse of the trust placed in the hands of government (and therefore our) servants:

  • Amount spent on publicity and decoration – Rs. 4,35,032/-
  • Amount spent on creative activity – Rs. 1,387,278/-
  • Inspite of large staff employed in the temple as volunteers, working selflessly, an amount of Rs. 43,400/- was allotted to extra expenses for helpers.
  • Earlier the Sree Siddhivinayak temple trust management informal said that an amount of 16 lakh was sponsored.  But actually, only Rs. 8,75,438 was collected from sponsors. Even then this amount could have been used for more fruitful purposes.
  • Besides this sponsored amount, the temple funds were used for meeting the remaining expenses of Rs. 16 lakh.
  • In all, for the two-day extravaganza, Rs.24 lakhs were spent!

 

Demands of Hindi Janajagruti Samiti

These were the demands made by HJS.

  • Change the venue from the present seven star hotel to some other reasonable (non-starred) place.
  • The participants should openly declare their intention to propagate and to impart education on Hindu Dharma.
  • The participants should declare that they have faith in Hindu Dharma and its scriptures.
  • A temple is a place of worship and not a tourist spot; hence it should be managed accordingly.
  • The participants shall declare their plans to help neglected temples in their respective states.
  • Any written letter or invitation or any document of that nature issued by the respective Trusts should be written in Hindu tradition. (as an example – any letter / invitation / proposal should begin with the Invocation and blessings of Lord Ganapati) The summit timetable had nothing of this sort.

HJS demands that the money thus squandered on the fun and frolic of the trustees be refunded by those very delegates who enjoyed the extravaganza or by the members of Sree Siddhivinayak temple trust management personally.