Jaya extends free meal scheme to 106 temples

 The expanded scheme, under which devotees visiting the temples are provided a free three-course meal after the “Ucchi Kala Pooja” at noon daily, is a public donations-driven voluntarism combined with religious virtue of feeding the poor.

Launched in 2002, the scheme had earlier covered 362 temples in the state and had later been extended to churches and mosques as a way of secularising it.

The extension has been ordered after an in-depth review of the scheme, which could feed up to 300 people visiting various temples in the state.

State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister S P Shanmuganathan launched the “annadhanam” scheme’s expansion on Sunday at the 800-year-old Pallava shrine for Lord Vishnu, Sri Madhava Perumal Temple,  at Mylapore in the heart of Chennai. The expansion comes a day after the chief minister announced an elaborate social security scheme for farmers in the state, including a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 for those above 60.

At the time of launch, the CM had described the scheme as the best gift for the poor. During the March 2002 launch, a corpus was also designated for its implementation and “hundis” were installed to collect small donation from the public in temples providing “‘annadhanam” daily. Besides the initial corpus of Rs 3.27 crore, an additional Rs 20 crore was transferred from the temples which have surplus funds for this project, said Shanmuganathan.

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