Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Even as the doors of the Lord of the Universe (Jagannath) are going to get unlocked for general devotees after over 270-days of lockdown on the coming Wednesday, the pandemic of novel Coronavirus, termed by many in Puri as the Kalapahar of this century, has rendered this one among the top-10 prosperous temples in the country poorer by crores.

Not only the Shree Jagannath Temple, the contagious virus has also robbed the famous 12th century shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva – the Lingaraj temple - in Bhubaneswar of crores in terms of revenue.

An estimate prepared by the Puri Temple Administration, reveals that the revered shrine, which is one of the char (Four) sacred dhams in India, is going to feel a hole of around Rs 10 crores losses in its income budget this year due to Covid-19, while the ancient Shree Lingaraj temple will be incurring a deficit of around Rs 8 crore.

Unlike Shree Jagannath Temple, which has recourse to the State government grant in deficit years, the temple of Lord Lingaraj has no such luxury. As a consequence, the sword of pay cut looms large over the employees of the hallowed temple.

“The revenue collection of MahaprabhuJagannath Temple had taken a big hit due to Covid-19. On the contrary, our expenditure has grown manifold due to Covid-19. We expect a big revenue shortfall. Therefore, recently we introduced an online donation system to meet the shortfall. Also, contribution from devotees to Corpus fund has been extended,” said SJTA chief administrator Dr Krishan Kumar.

Income & Expenditure Pie Of Shree Jagannath Temple

The Puri Jagannath temple earns from three sources:

A) Land Revenue: From this account, the ancient temple earns nearly 30 per cent of its annual revenue. The income on this count comes from sale of rajabhoga (sale of proceeds from paddy and other crops), sale of coconuts, proceeds from mining (quarries) etc. In the year 2019-20, the approximate earning on this count stood at around Rs 25 crore.

B) Miscellaneous & Interest Income: A whopping 47 per cent of the annual income of the temple is accrued from this account. In 2019-20, the approximate amount was around Rs 35crore.

C) Temple Revenue: This account makes income via donations, ticket sales etc. In year 2019-20, the 12th century shrine of Lord Vishnu earned Rs 4 crore via donations alone. Total earning from this count had been estimated at around Rs 5 crore.

How The Expenditure Is Incurred?

While the daily nitis (rituals) take the lion’s share of expenses, the expenditure towards salary and other expenses of the temple employees also constitute a significant chunk.

As per sources, the annual expenditure for the Shree Jagannath temple has been estimated at around Rs 60-70 crore every year.

Hand To Mouth Situation In Pandemic Year!

While the expenses on the rituals alone this year has been estimated at around Rs 40 crore, the earnings have dropped to mere Rs 60 crore via interest on corpus deposits, land sale and mining.

“Income from ticket sale, donations etc saw a drastic reduction of over 99 per cent this year owing to Covid-19 lockdown. From around Rs 4 lakh earnings per day, the daily income during the Covid-19 lockdown now has been hovering at around Rs 2000-3000 per day,” said a temple administration official requesting anonymity.

However, in this pandemic time, the Shree Jagannath Temple has the option to bank on State government grants to tide over the crisis, he added.

Affairs At Lingaraj Temple

The situation of Lord Lingaraj Temple seems more precarious. Employees of the temple were in the constant fear of salary cut, because, prior to the introduction of the Shree Lingaraj Temple Ordinance by State government recently, the temple’s expenses are met by income from land and donations. And donations have tapered down to almost nil in this pandemic year.

“Annual income of Lord Lingaraj Temple over the years has been from the proceeds like land and donation. The annual income is estimated to be in the range of around Rs 30-40 crore. The earning from donation has been around Rs 8 crore. This year the income from donation had been nil. The hardship can then be anybody’s guess,” said former executive officer of Lingaraj Temple Trust, Manoranjan Panigrahi.

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