NATIONAL

`Mahaprakaram' in Tirumala ``not against sastras''

CHENNAI, AUG. 21. The masterplan of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), including the construction of another `Mahaprakaram' (outer wall) was not against the ``sastras and sampradaya.'' People who have not understood the plan are spreading wrong information about it, the chief priest of the Sri Venkateswara temple, Tirumala, Venkataramana Dikshitulu, said here on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that about 40,000 pilgrims visited the shrine everyday and the number went up to one lakh on festival days. ``So it is our primary duty to see that all devotees get proper darshan, staying facilities and the prasadam.'' About 80,000 `laddus' are being prepared daily. Though there was sufficient manpower to prepare such a large number of laddus, there was no place inside the temple for an extra kitchen. Also, as per the `Vaikhanasa Agama,' `kalyanotsavams' should be performed only inside the temple as `Agni' for the festival, which played a vital role, should not be brought outside the temple `prakaram' (precincts). It was for the purpose of locating a bigger kalyanamandapam, to facilitate more number of devotees to attend the celebrations, and another kitchen that a mahaprakaram was being planned. The new kalyanamandapam could accommodate more than 5000 devotees and there would be a separate way for them.

Relocation of mandapam

As regards the 1,000-pillared mandapam, it was in a ``precarious condition'' and hence it was demolished. The mandapam was not connected with Sri Ramanuja. The structure did not exist at all during his lifetime. It came up later and was originally meant for providing shelter to pilgrims from rain, shine and wild animals. Records said that no ritual was performed there. When the Sannadhi Street was widened earlier, about 80-90 pillars were removed. It had now been proposed to relocate the mandapam on the north side of the main temple behind the Sri Varahaswami temple, in its original grandeur for better use by devotees. Only alteration works were planned in the Pedda Jeer Math as requested by the Jeer himself.

Answering a question, he denied that the TTD was wantonly making pilgrims to wait in the queue for a long time so as to give an impression that there was always a big crowd in the temple.