Non-Hindus can't work in Andhra's Hindu temples

Non-Hindus can't work in Andhra's Hindu temples

Tirumala temple

Taking the issue of non-Hindus working in Hindu temples of the state very seriously, the YS Jaganmohan Reddy government has ordered that only those who have converted to Hinduism will be allowed to stay in the job. Others, who have either converted to other religion or belong to other religions, will be sacked.

The government will also conduct surprise checks at the homes of the employees working under temple managements or endowment boards to verify whether they follow Hinduism or some other religion.

The stern warning came from Chief Secretary L V Subramanyam who recently visited the Tirumala temple, the richest temple in the country, where a few devotees had complained about a “Jerusalem Yatra” advertisement printed at the back of the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) tickets. Even though the advertisement was not meant for Tirumala hills, a mistake done by an employee at the APSRTC depot in Tirupati resulted in a major furore over the spread of evangelical preachings in the temple town.

The Chief Secretary has said that a coordination committee will be appointed to check the working of non-Hindus in temples and also to oversee the strict implementation of government orders pertaining to non-Hindus working at different levels in temples across the state. “Those who are working in temples but do not believe in Hinduism will have to leave at once,” he said categorically.

In 2018, after a video of a senior Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) lady officer praying at a Church went viral, the TTD identified 44 non-Hindu staff members and dismissed them from religious duties. The affected employees, who were employed as gardeners, drivers and in other non-religious profiles, challenged the decision in the High Court and secured a stay. The Chittoor district Bharatiya Janata Party unit led a major protest against non-Hindus working in Hindu temples and called it an insult to the sentiments of Hindus.

In 2007, the TTD banned a 1989 order that allowed recruitment of non-Hindus in the educational institutions run by the temple.

In Srisailam

The stern warning comes at a time when the Srisailam temple Executive Officer (EO) KS Rama Rao sent a list of 17 non-Hindus working at the Sri Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy Varla Devasthanam in Kurnool district to the government. Raids were conducted to ascertain their religion which led to tension.

In his letter he mentioned that out of the 17, three were Muslims -- a driver, a record assistant and the third one held some other job. The remaining 14 were Christians, who were appointed as daily wage workers on contract basis or as outsourced employees.

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