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Hindu Temples and the Kerala State Government

Who should manage the Hindu temples in Kerala? The State government or the devotees. This is an ongoing debate in Kerala. The debate gained momentum recently with the present Communist government in Kerala bringing ordinances to take over the administration of various temples in Kerala. The latest being the Malabar Devaswom Ordinance to take over the temples in Malabar.

The Hindu population in Kerala is just over fifty percent. The rest of the nearly fifty percent consists of Muslims and Christians. The Hindus in Kerala are a divided lot and are mainly represented by caste based organizations like the Nair Service Society (NSS), Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) and numerous other such organizations. It must also be noted here that the Communist parties in Kerala finds its support base mainly among the Hindus.

The temples in Kerala are mainly administrated by the Travancore Devaswom Board, Cochin Devaswom Board and Guruvayur Devaswom Board. Recently, the government took over the various boards through ordinance. Although there were protests against the government move from several Hindu organizations, majority of the Hindus remained silent. The silence mainly due to the large-scale corruption in the administration of the temples.

The situation in Kerala is unique. The State government never interferes in the affairs of the Churches and Mosques. But the government periodically interferes in the affairs of Hindu temples and majority of the Hindus never object. The rich Hindu temples have bailed out the government several times from financial crisis.

  • Ten crore rupees (100 million) were taken from the Guruvayur Temple to the State treasury to overcome financial crisis.
  • During the Indo-China war, Guruvayur Temple gave gold to the central government.
  • Another one crore was provided by Guruvayur Temple towards the Indira Vikas Yogana.
  • The Guruvayur Temple has a fixed deposit of 450 crore in Kerala Treasury.

All this, when majority of the Hindu temples were finding it hard to perform daily pujas. During the past fifteen years numerous temples in Kerala were renovated by the devotees. Now some people feel that the government which did not do anything to help the temples when they were impoverished has come to usurp the newly found wealth in these temples.

Majority of the Hindus remained silent all through the government actions as they were not happy with the present administrations. But the government appointed people have not faired better and this has now put the government in docks.

Hindus in Kerala never mix religion with politics. There is nothing wrong in government looking after the administration of the temples provided that the wealth in the temples is used for the betterment of the Hindu society.

Kerala has several success stories of co-operative societies. And the government should come forward to start co-operative societies with the wealth from temples. The wealth from the temples should be used to create jobs, free hospitals, old-age homes, schools and job oriented training centers. A part of the wealth should be used to improve the facilities in temples.

The hardest part is to generate money; the Hindu temples in Kerala are doing it. No government expertise is needed to spend wealth. Government expertise and control is needed to use the wealth to make more wealth; and to use that wealth for the betterment of the Hindu society in Kerala.