Andhra Pradesh

Coronavirus | 14 priests at Tirumala test positive

The temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala.

The temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala.  

They have been shifted to Tirupati and have been admitted to Srinivasam quarantine centre.

In a shocking development, fourteen archakas working at Tirumala temple tested positive for COVID-19 and have been shifted to Tirupati where they were admitted to Srinivasam quarantine center for better medical care.

TTD Chairman Y.V. Subba Reddy, who is camping atop the hill, held a meeting with the top officials of the management and personally took stock of the situation. He also invited the priests working at the hill temple and inquired about the situation that led to a sudden spurt in positive cases.

Briefing the media, Chairman Reddy on Thursday said the overall tally of TTD personnel affected by the virus so far stood at 140. A majority of them were associated either with the APSP battalion or security while the rest, including the 14 archaks, were affiliated to potu and other departments. While more than 70 personnel have been cured and some of them have reported for duty, the rest are either in home quarantine or under treatment.

The silver lining is that not even a single devotee who visited the temple, has reported any kind of infection after his return to his native destination nor is there any incident to corroborate that TTD staff were infected by the visiting pilgrims.

Though safety of pilgrims is paramount, the role of archakas should not be undermined for the temple cannot function without them.

We are even ready to stop darshan for the pilgrims but cannot compromise with the well being of priests as they play a pivotal role in the execution of day-to-day rituals relating to the deity.

It is for this reason that the management, on the request of the priests, has decided to provide them individual accommodation, supply proper food and extend better hygiene environs for their dwelling while at Tirumala. He also instructed the officials to deal with their grievances with a pragmatic approach, like allocating temporary duties at Tirupati for those aged above 60 years, or allowing them home quarantine subject to health conditions and so on.

When asked about conducting the annual Brahmotsavams in September, Mr. Reddy shot back that it is too early to come to a decision at a time when the country is plagued with the deadly virus. How can anyone anticipate a situation two months in advance, he asked while assuring that all the rituals and functions relating to the presiding deity Lord Venkateswara will be carried out without even a minutest deviation.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 6:42:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/coronavirus-many-tirumala-priests-test-positive/article32102932.ece

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