Priests get back hereditary rights
source: Deccan Chronicle, March 26, 2007
Hyderabad, March 26: The government has decided to restore the hereditary rights to archakas, temple priests, across the State. The government decided to allow the priests of smaller temples with meagre revenues to enjoy proceeds from the hundi (collection box) and revenue from temple properties.
Endowments minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy will introduce a Bill amending the AP Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments Act, 1987, on March 28, reversing the 1987 decision of then Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao to abolish hereditary rights.
With the amendments the government will hand over the management of about 30,000 temples to managing trustees. It will set up a Dhoopa Deepa Naivedyam Fund to support and revive thousands of temples. Sources said that though the government had previously assured that it would pay salaries to archakas it could never keep its promise due to paucity of funds.
"Thousands of old temples are languishing. An equal number of archaka families have become impoverished in the last two decades," an endowments official said. The objective of the amendments was to ensure that daily rituals are performed in every temple. The government would bring in certain amendments with regard to sale of endowment lands. The government decided to constitute bhakta samajams comprising devotees in each temple to organise bhajans, religious discourses and other activities associated with temples. A Sanatana Dharma Parishad will be constituted under the chairmanship of the endowments minister to advise the government in temple administration and matters relating to preservation of Hindu culture and religion.