Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

Tirupati Title Test

On Monday, I went to Tirupati to see the Sri Venkateswara Temple.  I’ve always wanted to come here, but I didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t realize it was this beautiful drive up the Tirumala Hill to get to the temple.  Once we got my ticket, I didn’t have to wait in line for hours for my darshan.  I was in a VIP line that moved quickly, and my darshan was at 8pm.  But like everyone else, I only had a second to look at Lord Venkateswara.

Getting into the Temple

Once you stand in front of the idol, the temple staff pushes you along to keep the line moving.  There are a number of armed officers with machine guns in the surroundings, since the gold idol is worth a lot of money.  The spot for hundi is outside the worship area in a big white sheet, shaped like a canister that hangs from the ceiling.  I’m told that the temple can easily collect at least 1 crore ($188,000 with$1=53 rupees)/day during festival season.

There were also a number of men, women and children walking around with balled heads, as I soon learned that the temple was a place where people shaved their heads once a wish had been fulfilled.   Apparently the hair is shipped to the U.S. or Japan for wigs to be made.  A special thanks to our family friends, Dr. and Mrs. Reddy, who made this possible for me.