Revenue Department has asked 34,000 temples to conduct a slew of rituals
Under attack for failing to take timely steps to tackle the severe drought in Karnataka, the State government has now taken to propitiating the gods.
The Department of Revenue (Muzrai) has issued a circular to 34,000 temples under its control to conduct ‘abhishekha,’ ‘varuna mantra,’ ‘jalabhishekha’ and several other rituals.
The circular has drawn flak from the Opposition, which has said the money meant for these rituals could have been allotted for relief work.
Issued on Thursday, the circular says the government is “convinced” that it is necessary to conduct these rituals in view of the severe drought, and “for the welfare of people and cattle.”
The government has sanctioned a maximum of Rs. 5,000 for each temple. This will amount to not less than Rs.17 crore. Temples in the A, B and C categories are expected to conduct the rituals on July 27 and August 2. The circular makes a particular mention of such prominent temples as Kollur Mookambika, Kukke Subrahmanya Swamy, Kateelu Durgaparmeshwari and Nanjangud Srikantheswara Swamy.
Speaking on the drought in the Assembly, Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Revanna criticised the way the government was spending its funds and urged it to ask the legislators to spend money from their own pockets on invoking the rain gods in their constituencies.
H.S. Mahadeva Prasad of the Congress and Putte Gowda of the JD(S) said the money meant for the rituals could be spent on providing water and fodder in villages.
This is not the first time the BJP government has directed public funds at promoting religious practices. The former Muzrai Minister, S.N. Krishnaiah Setty, had initiated the practice of sourcing Ganga jal (the Ganges water) from Haridwar for being distributed in temples during Shivaratri.
He continued this practice at his own expense after he resigned. He also ordered temples to conduct pujas every day for the “welfare” of the Chief Minister. And, with Jagadish Shettar taking over as Chief Minister, it was for the third time that homas and pujas were conducted in the offices of the Ministers.