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Temples and their economic significance.

Recently, in the first week of June, 2023 Sam Pitroda, nearly as if venting out his frustration in a special meeting held for the Indian expats living in New York America spoke,

"We have a problem with unemployment, inflation, education, and health. No one talks about these things. But everyone talks about Ram, Hanuman, and mandir. I have said that temples are not going to create jobs,"

If you want to do something progressive for the country, you also need to come to the country. What is the use of staying abroad and making irrelevant statements? They will not bring one to power, or any ministerial post. Further, it is the hallmark of a well-educated person to first check statistics and facts before venturing to speak.

The history of India is testimony to the fact that the temples of Lord Rama, Krishna, Hanumanji and other gods, goddesses and deities contribute immensely to the country's economy. It brings business and employment to millions of people. I have travelled across the whole country and with much love and respect have visited many temples. In all these places i have observed that millions of people are sustained by these temples.

For example, take the legendary Tirupati Balaji Temple, also known as Srivenkateswara Temple. This is a famous Hindu temple located in the city of Tirupati in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. According to the information received, nearly 75,000 pilgrims from all over the world come here daily to seek the blessings of Lord Venkateswara. There are 16,000 employees in the temple here. They are also paid salaries worth lakhs of rupees. Also, this temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and attracts millions of devotees and tourists from all over the world. The economy of the city of Tirupati is closely intertwined with the Tirupati Balaji Temple, which sees a significant increase in the number of pilgrims visiting the temple every year. Here are some aspects of the temple's economy:

1) Donations and Offerings:

Devotees visiting the temple make donations and offerings in cash and kind. These offerings can include money, jewelry, other precious metals, and valuables. The temple receives a substantial amount of money through these donations, which contribute to its economy.

2) Hundi Collections:

The temple has several hundis (donation boxes) where devotees can drop their monetary offerings. The hundi collections form a significant part of the temple's revenue. The funds collected are utilized for the temple's maintenance, development projects, and various charitable activities.

3) Prasadam Distribution:

The temple offers prasadam (food sanctified by God) to the devotees. The prasadam is considered sacred and is distributed to millions of visitors daily. The distribution of prasadam involves a significant logistical operation and provides employment opportunities to a large number of people, contributing to the local economy.

4) Tourism and Hospitality:

The presence of the Tirupati Balaji Temple has boosted tourism in the region. Numerous hotels, lodges, and guesthouses have been established to accommodate the large number of pilgrims visiting the temple. The hospitality industry is flourishing due to the temple's popularity, providing employment and generating revenue.

5) Local Businesses:

The thriving pilgrimage tourism in Tirupati has given rise to various local businesses catering to the needs of the visitors. These include shops selling religious items, souvenirs, clothing, and other products. The local economy benefits from the increased demand for goods and services by the pilgrims.

6) Employment Opportunities:

The temple complex requires a large workforce to manage its operations, including priests, administrative staff, security personnel, maintenance workers, and more. The employment opportunities provided by the temple directly contribute to the local economy and livelihoods of the people in the surrounding areas.

7) Charitable Activities:

The Tirupati Balaji Temple undertakes numerous charitable activities, such as free food distribution, healthcare services, educational initiatives, and disaster relief efforts. These activities not only benefit the local community but also contribute to the overall welfare and economy of the region.

In conclusion, the economy of Tirupati is significantly influenced by the Tirupati Balaji Temple due to the massive influx of devotees, donations, offerings, tourism, hospitality, and associated businesses. The temple's operations and charitable activities contribute to employment generation, infrastructure development, and the overall economic growth of the region.

Temples play a significant role in creating employment opportunities in several ways:

1) Construction and Maintenance: Temples often require construction, renovation, and maintenance work. This involves various skilled and unskilled laborers, including architects, engineers, masons, carpenters, electricians, painters, plumbers, and gardeners. These projects provide employment for these workers by way of the construction industry.

2) Art and Craftsmanship:

Temples often feature intricate and elaborate artworks, sculptures, paintings, and carvings. The creation of these artistic elements involves artists, sculptors, painters, and craftsmen who specialize in traditional techniques. Temples can provide a platform for these artists to showcase their skills and generate income.

3) Religious Services:

Temples require priests, pujaris, and other religious personnel to perform various rituals and ceremonies. These activities provide employment opportunities for individuals who have received training in religious practices and rituals.

4) Temple Administration:

Temples need efficient management and administration to handle daily operations, finances, and coordination of activities. This includes roles such as administrators, accountants, managers, and support staff, which further contribute to job creation.

5) Tourism and Hospitality:

Temples often attract a large number of devotees and tourists, generating opportunities in the hospitality sector. This includes accommodations, restaurants, transportation, tour guides, souvenir shops, and other services catering to the needs of visitors. The presence of a temple can stimulate tourism and create employment in related industries.

6) Education and Research:

Some larger temples have educational institutions attached to them, such as schools, colleges, and research centers. These institutions offer teaching and research positions, creating employment opportunities for educators, researchers, and administrative staff.

7) Cottage Industries:

Temples sometimes promote the development of cottage industries in the surrounding areas. For example, temple authorities may encourage the production of traditional handicrafts, textiles, or other products associated with religious ceremonies. This can encourage local entrepreneurship and create employment opportunities for artisans and craftsmen.

It's important to note that the extent of employment generation varies depending on the size and popularity of the temple, its location, and the support and initiatives taken by the temple authorities and local communities. Temples are not burdens on society instead are valuable contributors to the economy and are a powerhouse of employment opportunities.

When Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple was going through a rough time financially, it was then that he found solace both mentally and physically by way of a temple. To the extent, that he sustained himself on temple prasadam in that period of time. Today, the company he founded provides employment to 1,54,000 personnel. Thus, besides a host of other contributing factors to his success, the temple also plays an important role. In this way, temples can create employment opportunities not just within the country, but also overseas as well.

Thanks Giving

This article is written and submitted to The E Today by Sadhu Amrutvadandas. We thank swamiji for his research and analysis and hope to see the awareness about life and peace being spread ahead to larger mass of our citizens.

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