M. Malleswara Rao
HYDERABAD: The Lord of the Seven Hills hereafter will be the world's biggest performer of marriages. The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams has decided to conduct one lakh weddings of the poor in the State annually in His name.
To start with, it will unite 50,000 couples in wedlock, using the treasury of "Vaddikaasulavaadu", as part of its new programme to organise mass marriages. A muhurtham has been fixed at 11.54 a.m. on February 22.
The next batch of 50,000 couples will be wedded in July. According to TTD chairman B. Karunakar Reddy, they will provide a gold `thali' weighing one gram, a pair of clothes each to the groom and bride, and free meals to the relatives -- all costing Rs 3,000 each. The `thalis' will be made at the Government mint at Mumbai. The "Srinivasa Padmavathi Mangalotsava Trust" is being formed to institutionalise the scheme.
The marriages will be performed at TTD kalyana mandapams and at other identified places. Mr. Reddy told The Hindu here on Saturday that the TTD had adopted this mode to help the poor, many of whom take loans to perform marriages of their children. "This is the highest form of `dharma prachara' and it also prevents child marriages," he said.
However, the TTD will give assistance only after the couple declare before the village sarpanch or the panchayat secretary that each of them is unmarried, are majors and have faith in Hindu dharma. The district Collectors have been asked to make arrangements for the event. After the marriage, the new couples will be allowed "break darshan" at Tirumala.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy complimented the TTD chief when the latter called on him at the Secretariat. To a complaint that only upper castes were able to use the TTD kalyana mantapams, Mr. Karunakar Reddy said they were planning to reduce rent.