Vijayawada: Devotees forced to line pockets of barbers at Durga temple

File photo of barbers at work at the tonsuring hall of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam at Durga ghat in Vijayawada
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File photo of barbers at work at the tonsuring hall of Sri Durga Malleswara Swamyvarla Devasthanam at Durga ghat in Vijayawada

Highlights

  • Tonsuring at Durga temple turns expensive
  • Devotees must pay Rs 100 extra to the barbers even after buying ticket for tonsuring
  • Temple administration to recruit another 600 barbers for Dasara festivities

Vijayawada (NTR District): The devotees, who wish to offer hair to Goddess Durga, are baffled as they are forced to line the pockets of the barbers at 'Kesa khandanasala' (tonsuring hall) at Sri Durga Malleswara temple atop Indrakeeladri.

The Durga temple is the second largest temple in the State after Tirumala Balaji temple in terms of devotees. The temple witnesses several thousands of devotees every day and this number will be doubled on auspicious days. On an average, 5 to 10% of devotees on normal days and 10 to 30% on auspicious days like Dasara will offer their hair to the Goddess.

Devotees and pilgrims alleged that they are forced to shell out extra money in the form of various charges. Besides they have to pay high prices at the temples to buy puja items and other things, as the vendors collect more than double the price compared to market price for any item at the temple.

Most of the devotees will offer their hair to the God after their wishes are fulfilled. Now, they rue that this offering has become expensive for them at Vijayawada Durga temple.

The temple administration charges Rs 25 for tonsuring and for three cuttings also. About 100 barbers are working under the Durga temple administration in various shifts, including permanent employees and staff on contract basis also. 90% of the ticket fare for each tonsure will be paid to the barbers.

However, the barbers formed as a gang and fixed the amount to demand the pilgrims. They allegedly harass devotees for extra money. Despite buying ticket for tonsuring, devotees complained that they have to pay extra amount ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 100. This extra amount will go up to Rs 200 if they have to tonsure children.

If any person don't pay the extra money, the barbers reportedly speak harsh words. Devotees, who visit Durga temple, alleged that barbers collecting extra amount and rude behaviour has increased in recent times.

Meanwhile, the temple administration is celebrating Dasara festival for 10 days, from September 26 to October 5. For this, 600 additional barbers will be recruited for tonsuring work.

During Dasara festival several lakhs of devotees throng the Durga temple. Several devotees will offer hair to the Goddess. People are criticising that barbers are more likely to loot devotees with the help of some corrupt authorities on all these auspicious days.

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