Stir spoils marriage plans at Tirumala

 The abode of Lord Venkateswara is a favourite destination for Telugus, Tamils, Bengalis and Kannadigas to get married. Priests at Tirumala are apparently unhappy with the Samaikyandhra agitation, as the stir has robbed them of a fast buck by performing weddings.

It is said at least 10,000 weddings were hampered in the last 65 days, which included four days of complete blockade by agitators.  “The agitation has ruined celestial bliss of young boys and girls who opted for wedding at Tirumala,” said Veligonda  Ramakirshna Sharma, a priest.

Around 4,000 weddings were held at the holy shrine in August last year. However, the numbers dropped drastically to 750 in August this year. It slumped further to 254 in September, said an official of the Kalyana Vedika of Tirumala. “Though all weddings held at the Tirumala hills are not under the purview of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), a modest estimate puts the number at a minimum of 5,000 per month,” said an official.

Every year, almost  50,000 to 60,000 weddings are held at Tirumala. “People fix weddings with priests overnight and walk out of Tirumala by next evening with a bride,” said Nagabhushana Sharma, former chief of the Purohit Sangham at Tirumala and Tirupati.
Though August and September are usually dull when it comes to weddings, priests of the 1,100-member sangham said: “We got hundreds of queries from all over the state, some even from the US, Australia and Singapore. But we could not guarantee smooth and uneventful weddings due to the ongoing agitation.”

A guesthouse manager said: “We had a booking for over 18 marriages this month. But only two marriages have been conducted so far as the parties either postponed the dates or cancelled the bookings.”

A priest rued, “We used to perform over a dozen marriages daily during Sravana at various kalyana mandapams.”

A few devotees who went ahead with their weddings had to spend more for decoration of the venue, transportation and other provisions.

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