TTD goes for new mantra to protect flock

source: New Indian Express,   April 4, 2008

TIRUPATHI: The efforts of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to woo back sections of society drifting away from the Hindu fold seem to be having an impact, if the response of fisherfolk to a recently- concluded programme was anything to go by.


The TTD took the initiative to train fishermen in temple rituals, including chanting of sacred mantras both for daily and special occasions – hitherto imparted only to the ‘Brahmin’ community.

The fisherfolk, relatively isolated from the larger community on account of their location and the nature of their work, have been easy prey to “religious conversion”.

It appears that recent conversions of a good many people to other faiths jolted the Andhra Pradesh Mathsya Karula Samkshema Sangham (APMSS) to approach the TTD to help fisherfolk learn more about the religion and help maintain village shrines.

Speaking to this website's newspaper, APMSS secretary Tirupathaiah said it would not have been a matter of great concern had it been a case of individuals embracing a new religion. But it was the conversion en masse that set alarm bells ringing in a once close-knit community.

Lack of awareness of Hindu traditions had made people susceptible to conversion, and hence the need to “strengthen existing temples by conducting the rituals regularly,” said Tirupathaiah.

He recounted the memorable experience of being joined by Brahmin priests, who are undergoing training separately in the same complex, in the rendition of Nagarsankirthana and in visiting local temples.

Echoing this sentiment was Chintapalli Bhuloka, a 40-year old fishermen from Khundivanipeta from Srikakulam district, the northeastern tip of the State. He said the weeklong sojourn in the temple town to learn rituals was a “golden interlude” in his life.

Another trainee, Odrarevu Krishnavarma from Dindi in Tallarevu mandal of East Godavari district was overjoyed at his first acquaintance with the Scriptures and wholeheartedly thanked the TTD for the opportunity.

In all, 42 fishermen from the coastal villages were trained. Sri Venkateswara Employees Training Academy (SVETA) director Bhuman, the brains behind the novel programme, said the training involved simplified forms of temple rituals, including recitations of ‘Dhyana slokas’, performance of Harthi and Archana, and offering of Naivedyam.

There were also visits to local temples to study priests performing poojas and bhajans before retiring for the night.

TTD executive Officer KV Ramanachary said the fisherfolk were impressive, even surpassing many Brahmins in clarity of rendition of the slokas.

“They were found to be deeply devoted and keen on learning more about their faith,” he added. He said that apart from training fisherfolk in conducting rituals, the TTD would also provide material support for repair and renovation of temples.

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