Such was the hubris of Reddy, who offered to the deity of the Seven Hills a gold crown worth Rs 45 crore in June 2009, that on the back of the crown’s exterior “Gali” was etched by laser.
And on the left interior, his name is etched in full—Gali Janardhana Reddy—with his date of birth January 11,1967, to boot.
Devotees of the temple, who opposed the ritual use of the crown for the deity, and wanted it to be returned to the donor, are quite sure that the arrogance of the mining baron in etching his name on the crown is the source of his recent troubles with the investigating agencies,that have landed him in the Chanchalguda jail here since September 5 for his role in unlawful mining.
Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Executive Officer L V Subramanyam said normally such inscriptions are encouraged in small print to identify the donor.
Such inscriptions are even found on the valuable ornaments given to the temple by kings and queens hundreds of years ago.
But Reddy’s action in etching his family name on the exterior of the crown was, according to devotees, somewhat of an excess.
Soon after the arrest of the Karnataka former minister, many devotees of the Tirupati shrine had raised a hue and cry that the crown donated by the tainted politician should not be used to decorate the deity in the temple.
The crown was normally adorn the head of the idol during the pre-dawn “abhisekham” on Fridays.
The crown was earlier stored in the “Vaibhavotsava Mandapam” in Tirumala and special pujas were performed. After a ritual called “Sahasra Deepalankara seva,” it was taken around in procession along with the deity, Lord Malayappa Swamy. Later, it was taken inside the sanctum sanctorum.
The temple “bokkasam” (treasury) has 21 gold and diamond studded crowns, 13 donated centuries ago by kings and emperors, including Krishnadevaraya, and eight by industrialists like the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas, Singhanias, Modis, Chettiars, Rajus, and Reddys .
In all, 32kg of 24-carat gold went into its making, as did 70,000 diamonds weighing 4,000 carats.
A huge, 890-carat emerald from Africa which alone costs around 10 crore adorns the crown. Keertilal Jewellers of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu took nine months to fashion the crown.