Staff Reporter

The programme to cover the entire coastal belt of the State from Nellore to Srikakulam

TIRUPATI: After reaching out to Dalit colonies with ‘Dalita Govindam’, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) management has now taken up ‘Matsya Govindam’ targeted at fishermen hamlets dotting the long, coastal belt of the State, starting from Tada in Nellore to Itchapuram in Srikakulam district. For the first time in the country, a target group hitherto considered alien is being trained in temple rituals.

The fishermen will be taught the basic tenets of Vedic religion, evolution of temple system, the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of idol worship, features of Agamas, rituals,conduct of festivals and so on besides increasing rapport with devotees.

The idea apparently sprang from the concern over the collapse of temple system and Hindu form of worship in the coastal belt, mostly inhabited by the members of fishermen community. The coastline spread over nine districts has been found to have 213 temples in 187 villages. While 20 were dedicated to Shakti or Veerabrahmam cult, the rest are ‘Ramalayams’, mostly in a dilapidated condition. The move gained pace with the fishermen community itself complaining of ‘poaching’ by other faiths in the coastal belt. The president of Kakinada-based ‘Matsyakara Sankshema Samithi’, Koduru Jayaram, had represented to the TTD to save Hindu temple system by training the members of the community in priesthood.

Into mainstream

“Lord Vishnu’s first incarnation is ‘Matsya’ and hence Hinduism owes a lot to the fishermen community. The programme will also help in getting the fishermen into the fold of mainstream Hinduism,” Bhuman, Director of the TTD’s Sri Venkateswara Employees Training Academy (SVETA) told The Hindu.

During the week-long training session, the priests-to-be will have to wake up before dawn, perform ‘Nagara Sankeertan’, yoga, meditation, recite ‘slokas’ and get them by rote, and attend classes. A practical follow-up session is likely to be included in the module later.