Foreigners make a beeline for Tirumala

Tirumala has become a popular tourist destination for foreigners. While over a dozen Russians visited the Srivari Temple during Brahmotsavam, there were half a dozen Italians waiting in the regular queues of sarva dharshan and also pratyeka darshan on Monday.

“We have been receiving devotees from several nationalities- Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and also Srilanka regularly,” said the TTD officials who are allowing them to enter and have darshan of Lord Venkateswara after they obtain a due declaration from them about their faith in Hinduism.

“This is my 9th visit to Srivari Temple,” said Sabrina D costa who is leading the team of five Italians including three women and two men and led by a Punjabi guide.
 Her team includes Simona, a chemist and Catherine- a teacher from the Lazio region of Italy.

The 15 member Russian team on Sunday night was led by Shyam Gopal Vas, a local guide and included industrial workers, school teachers and also dancers. They even wanted to perform a devotional skit in front of the vahanams, said their guide.  “TTD has always welcome people from other faiths and beliefs to enter the temple of Lord Venkateswara if they expressed faith and devotion to the presiding deity,” said B Shivaji, the superintendent of Temple at Padi Kavali.

Thousands of foreign devotees and believers in Hinduism come to Tirumala regularly. They come to temple through free darshan and without making a fuss about the temple facilities.

They all appreciate the massive turnout of devotees on a daily basis and also massive facilities offered free of cost to devotees.   “I have not seen any such infrastructure built with peoples funds and managed by people providing free accommodation, food and also darshan any where in world,” said Simona.

Another Italian Sebastian D' Castello a leather merchant says that “faith is a great social changer and I now realize why there is such diversity in India”.

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