Taleju priests on warpath, want allowances revised

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Sep 5, 2014-

The head and assistant priests at Taleju Temple have not performed daily pooja (rituals) of Kumari also known as the Living Goddess since Thursday demanding that their monthly allowances be increased.

With only three days left to mark the week-long Indra Jatra festival, during which the chariot procession of Kumari is organised, 10 priests at the temple located inside Hanumandhoka said they would not take part in daily rituals as Guthi Sansthan failed to address their demands despite repeated requests.

This is for the first time in the history of Taleju temple, which was built in the honor of royal female deity Taleju Bhawani during the Malla era around 252 years ago, that the daily rituals are not performed.

According to Udabh Karmacharya, head priest associated with the temple for the past 18 years, the decision was taken after the Guthi Sansthan ignored their proposal on allowance increment submitted about six years ago. The priests said their annual allowances have not been revised for decades.

At present, the chief priest gets monthly allowance of Rs 500 while the assistant priests get Rs 300 and 200 respectively. As per the tradition, the head priest used to get five muris (approximately 360 kilogram) paddy as annual allowance. In the recent years, instead of paddy, the head priest and assistant priests are given cash equivalent to Rs 500 and Rs 300 monthly. “The amount has not been revised for decades. We want the authorities concerned to make the amount contextual,” Karmacharya said. He further said that, as per the proposal, the monthly allowances of a head priest should be made around Rs 1200 while the assistant priests around Rs 1000, which is not too high in the present context. “Our main concern is poor transparency and negligence of the Guthi Sansthan in overall religious matters,” he added.

Meanwhile, Panchalal Maharjan, chief at Central Guthi Organisation, which is responsible to look after the issue of Taleju temple and other religious and historical monuments in the Kathmandu valley, said they are positive on the priests’ demands. “We are holding discussion and hopefully will come up with an agreement with the protesting priests soon,” he said.

Published: 06-09-2014 09:15

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