HYDERABAD, INDIA, July 27, 2012 (India Today): The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), which manages the affairs of the country’s richest temple of Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh, has now banned the entry of all non-Hindus into the temple if they do not declare their faith in Lord Venkateshwara, the presiding Deity. The decision was taken by the TTD at a meeting on Thursday, apparently in the wake of recent controversy over the entry of YSR Congress Party president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, a devout Christian, into the Tirumala temple without bothering to sign the register declaring his faith in the Lord despite repeated appeals by the temple authorities.
According to TTD joint executive officer K.S. Srinivasa Raju, non-Hindus must necessarily sign the declaration form at the Vaikuntam queue complex before having the darshan of the Lord. Though the practice had been in vogue for several decades, it was only followed as a tradition and not a rule by only those who volunteered to give the declaration. Now, the TTD authorities have made it compulsory as per the government order (GO MS No. 311 of AP Revenue Endowments-1) under Rule no. 16. “It is now a mandatory rule for all those belonging to various faiths other than Hinduism to sign a declaration form before entering the hill temple stating that they have faith in the presiding Deity,” Raju said.
The TTD also took a serious note of the attempts by certain people representing evangelist organisations to propagate Christianity on the Tirumala hills. Last week, the TTD vigilance authorities caught red-handed three TTD employees who were in possession of literature, CDs and pictures pertaining to Christianity. The employees were found to be clandestinely propagating Christianity among the pilgrims coming from different parts of the country. The TTD authorities transferred them to the head office in the Tirupati down the sacred hills.