To woo Hindus, Jagan Reddy revives Tirupati Balaji Temple’s mass marriage scheme

Under ‘Kalyanamastu’, each bride will get gold ‘mangalasutra’ weighing two grams and silver toe rings, instead of one gram ‘mangalasutra’ given to brides under the old programme

| Representational image: PTI

The Andhra Pradesh government has revived yet another defunct welfare programme to establish Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as a pro-Hindu leader.

‘Kalyanamastu’, a programme started by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam 15 years ago, and discontinued 10 years back, offers benefits to newly-wed brides. As part of the renewed programme, each bride will get gold ‘mangalasutra’ weighing two grams and silver toe rings, instead of one gram ‘mangalasutra’ given to the brides under the scheme before.

The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) officials are busy making arrangements for the relaunch of the ‘Kalyanamastu’ programme on a grand scale on May 28, with the chief minister as the chief guest to bless the newly-wed couples. The TTD will foot all the expenses of the scheme, including silk clothes for the brides and grooms, hall rents, priest charges and food for 20 guests of each couple.

‘Kalyanamastu’ was first introduced in 2007, during late YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s chief ministership. It was abruptly discontinued in 2012. Till then, about 36,000 couples from poor financial backgrounds had already benefited from the programme.

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Under the scheme, any poor Hindu family can register the names of its grown up children, whose marriage has been fixed, with the TTD. There are only two conditions: the bride and groom should be adults and there should no legal hassle in the marriage.

The Balaji temple administration has decided to hold the mass marriages events on three dates during the current calendar year — May 28, October 30 and November 17.

Sources said the temple was left with an unused stock of 20,000 mangalasutras since the programme was discontinued in 2012.

CM Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is on a mission to improve his image among Hindus in the wake of allegations that his government is spreading Christianity in Andhra, has asked the TTD board, which is headed by his maternal uncle YV Subba Reddy, to revive the programme at the earliest. The board agreed.

TTD executive officer Dr KS Jawahar Reddy said the programme would serve the dual purpose of helping share poor families’ marriage expenses and keeping a check on religious conversions.

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About 20 months after he came to power, Jagan Reddy last month laid the foundation for reconstruction of more than 25 temples that were demolished for road widening during N Chandrababu Naidu’s regime. He also revived the Dharma Prachara Parishad of the TTD.

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