Muzrai priests hit streets, seek hike in temple aid

Muzrai priests hit streets, seek hike in temple aid

Priests stage a protest seeking government meet their various demands at Freedom Park in Bengaluru on Thursday. DH Photo

More than thousand priests working in ‘C’ category Muzrai temples on Thursday took to streets to draw the government’s attention towards the pathetic condition of temples that has affected their lives.

The priests took out a protest march from Maurya Circle to Freedom Park here and urged the government to fulfil their demands immediately.

They alleged that other than ‘tastik money’ (a money released by government for all-round functioning of the temple, which also includes their salary), they were not getting any payment to address their basic needs.

“The tastik money of Rs 4,000 will not be able to meet the basic needs of the temple and perform pooja every day. As we are not the employees of the Muzrai Department, we don’t get any salary. We urge the government to give us a monthly honorarium of Rs 5,000. The priest's job is a family practice and the department should review the strict norms to ensure the profession is transferred to the next generation of the priest,” Janakiram, state president of the Muzrai Priests Association, told DH.

They also alleged that there was no security for the priests, as residents in a few places have formed illegal committees in the name of temples and making money, leaving the temples in a pathetic state.

“They have also installed their own collection boxes inside the temples. We don’t have any voice. If we speak up, we are threatened. The government should look into the issue,” he added.

The protesters said the government should transfer out the people of other religions working in Muzrai department, which is against the Muzrai Act. “Nearly 34,000 temples under Muzrai Department lack basic needs. As the bills are not regularly paid, our temples have no basic amenities. We urge government to address these issues as soon as possible,” he said.