The ongoing lockdown in the country, which has affected many sectors, has not spared temples in Tamil Nadu as well, with the places of worship suffering revenue losses running into crores of Rupees by way of 'hundiyal' offerings.
The temples have no other means to augment revenues since their doors have been closed for darshan to the public since March 24 when the Tamil Nadu government effected a lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Notwithstanding the present fiscal position, some of the 'major' temples which always meet the needs of the less income generating temples may be burdened to shell out an additional amount to manage the other temples.
"On an average, about 150 temples, classified as major ones in terms of the revenue they generate through hundial collections and other activities, have reported a complete decline in revenue," an official of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department said.
The HR&CE manages 36,612 temples across Tamil Nadu and the affluent temples carry out conservation/renovation/restoration from their own surplus fund. Though an exact assessment of the revenue loss can only be made after the lockdown ends and normalcy regains, initial estimates reveal that each of those 'major' temples have lost Rs 40 lakh to Rs one crore in cash offerings each during the lockdown, the official added.
The ancient Sri Dhandayuthapani Swamy temple in Palani in Dindigul district, for instance, receives about Rs one crore cash offering besides almost an equal quantum as proceeds from the sale of 'panchamritham' (prashad) rope car and winch.
The Sri Parthasarathy Swamy temple, Sri Kapaleswarar temple and Vadapalani Andavar temple, all in the city, the famous Sri Meenakshi Amman temple in Madurai and Sri Bhagawathy Amman temple in Kanyakumari are among the 'major' revenue earning temples.
Even the Annadhanam scheme, patronised by the late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, receives donations from devotees on a daily basis. "Now this scheme is being used to feed the poor around the temples who have been affected by the lockdown," the official pointed out.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.