Blocking - Powerful shrines face heat as coffers dry out

NEW DELHI: It seems to have hit man and God equally.

As the doors of major shrines across the country remain closed for more than 45 days, their daily collections have bottomed out, so much so that some temple administrations even struggle to meet regularly. Some are filling the deficit by diving into their reserves.

The Kerala Sree, which used to see an average monthly income of around Rs 3 crore, is now generating just Rs 7.5 lakh. The temple needs Rs 1.1 crore to pay wages to its 307 employees and cover other expenses. Senior officials at, who handle temple affairs, did not explain how they were dealing with the deficit.

Similarly, the Guruvayur Temple has witnessed its monthly plummeting collections from around Rs 5 crore to Rs 1.5 lakh. The temple is now covering its routine expenses of Rs 10 crore per month, largely from the interest on its fixed deposits of Rs 1,529 crore. Its reserves include around 700 kg of gold.

The blockade has caused a loss of revenue of around Rs 100 million to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. The temple's Travancore Devaswom Board, canceled the 10-day festival that was scheduled in March and the Vishu in mid-April. He was also forced to cancel two monthly bids.

The Andhra Pradesh Hill Shrine, considered the richest Hindu temple in the world, has also been affected. Before closing, the temple's monthly income was Rs 200 million, which has now been reduced to zero. His monthly expenses are around Rs 150 million, which the temple board now manages with some surplus funds. The temple has a cash reserve of Rs 14,000 crore.

In Maharashtra, the famous Saibaba Temple in Shirdi, which used to earn monthly pre-closing of Rs 22 crore, is now seeing negligible income. Sai Sansthan, who has a monthly salary bill of Rs 18 crore for his 6,000 employees, was unable to pay wages during the months of March and April. The Sansthan has decided not to reinvest past due fixed deposits to pay wages. The temple has a deposit of Rs 2.5 billion, in addition to a considerable gold reserve.

The Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, which has 250 employees, has been forced to pay the 85-lakh rupees monthly salary bill from the management fund. The temple's monthly income of Rs 8 crore has completely dried up. The trust, which has a fixed deposit of Rs 350 crore, is confident of navigating through this phase.

The iconic Haji Ali dargah of Mumbai is supported by the reserve funds as there has been no collection during the closure. Previously, Haji Ali would raise between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 30 lakh monthly.

Similarly, Dargah Ajmer in Rajasthan is counting on his savings and interest to cover the monthly expenses of Rs 55-60 lakh. Dargah's earnings have plummeted since the close. Dargah's management declined to share details of their monthly income without permission from the ministry of minority affairs.

To the north, the Mata Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu has been handling its affairs with its own reserves. The temple has 3,000 employees working for it. To shore up its daily collection, its board plans to start paid online prasad services. On average, the daily collection at the sanctuary used to be Rs 1 crore, which has been reduced to almost zero.

Assam has seen his average daily collections of Rs 1.5 lakh-2 lakh become void now. His monthly spending before the crisis was around Rs 40 lakh. Now, the temple board is managing the expense of its reserves.

The closure of the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri, Odisha, has had a high cost on its collections, which has dropped to Rs 1,000-2,000 daily from almost Rs 3 lakh. The total loss of the temple so far is estimated to be around Rs 1.65 crore. The temple's cash reserve is around Rs 600 million, of which the administration covers the monthly expenses of Rs 5 million.

The Golden Temple in Punjab has also been badly hit. His income fell from almost Rs 7 crore per month to just Rs 4 lakh. However, it improved rapidly as the state allowed some relaxation in the block.