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Tirupati says no to VIP darshan ban

Tirupati says no to VIP darshan ban

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 7, 2009

On CM's Request, Temple Trust Reduces Window To Three Hours

It's ultimately the money power which lords over Tirumala as the Andhra government and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams' efforts to cancel the VIP sevas of Lord Venkateswara to provide longer darshan hours for common pilgrims came a cropper.

As a token relief however, the TTD cancelled advance reservation of seva tickets and online booking to enable longer darshan hours for commoners. At a high-level meeting with TTD officials in Hyderabad on Wednesday, chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said the darshan timings for VIPs must be reduced to half of the existing provision to see that common pilgrims are given preference.

The darshan for pilgrims opens at around 2.30 am with Suprabhatam and ends at 11 pm. After that Ekantam is performed to the Lord. Out of 20 hours of darshan, on an average in a day, six hours is consumed by VIPs who are less than 10,000 in number while in the remaining 14 hours over 60,000 commoners get a fleeting glimpse of Lord (During festive days the common pilgrim rush touch almost one lakh). With the chief minister's order, the VIP darshan timings have been curtailed to three hours in a day.

Talking to TOI, a top official said, "If we totally remove sevas and VIP darshan, donations to the temple will be affected. If the CM's directives are implemented properly, it will enable darshan to another 25,000 pilgrims in a day."

Sources said stung by allround criticism, the TTD had stopped advance reservation and online booking of seva tickets to reduce the darshan timings for VIPs. "Even the temple deputy executive officers cannot exercise powers to issue cellar, Kalyana utsavam break and Archana Anantara darshan tickets now," an official said. Sources said this move would cut down the recommendation letters brought by politicians, police and influential persons.

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