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TTD raises sandal wood trees to meet temple needs

TTD raises sandal wood trees to meet temple needs
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In an effort to ensure high quality and pure sandalwood for its temple rituals, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams TTD is growing sandal wood trees in Tirumala forests near the shrine This was also mainly to meet the sandal wood required by the temple administration in the long run for conducting the rituals, daily and occasionally in the shrine

Tirupati: In an effort to ensure high quality and pure sandalwood for its temple rituals, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) is growing sandal wood trees in Tirumala forests near the shrine. This was also mainly to meet the sandal wood required by the temple administration in the long run for conducting the rituals, daily and occasionally in the shrine.

Temple sources said the requirement of sandalwood now was annually about half a tonne for performance of rituals right from the pre-dawn ritual Suprabatham, to the last one ‘Ekantha seva’ before the shrine was closed around midnight. Four to five persons were deputed exclusively to derive paste from the sandal wood for conducting the rituals in the shrine.

After finding that Tirumala forests are also an ideal place for plantation of sandal wood (Genus Santalum), popularly known in India as Chandan tree of fragrant wood which has a great demand as it has significance, particularly in religious ceremonies including in temples and also in Hindu rituals, TTD decided to grow it.

TTD executive officer Anil Kumar Singhal, who inspected the plantation located near Parveta mandapm, 3 km from the shrine, within the TTD’s high security zone, recently, said that TTD in a record manner had taken up sandal wood plantation in over 100 hectare solely for the sake of rituals to Lord Venkateswara.

The sandal wood plantation had been taken up in 2013 with a grant of Rs.76 lakhs from Centre and TTD's own contribution of Rs.50 lakhs. He said initially plantation was started over 45 hectare but presently the TTD forest department has extended it to nearly 100 hectare on which TTD was spending Rs 10 lakh annually to ensure the plants grow well. The plantation includes 500 sandal wood and 500 red sanders plants besides rose wood, etc.

The EO said that the sandal wood to be produced here would be suffice for 300 years of use in Lord Venkateswara temple. TTD forest officer Phanikumar Naidu said that in 2008 TTD purchased 20 tonne high quality sandal wood of which 15-16 tonne stock of wood is remaining. This will be sufficient for the next 30 years by that time the sandalwood plantation is ready to supply the required quantity to TTD for temple rituals.

Tirumala temple chief priest Venugopal Deekshithulu said that Gandham, the paste of sweet-scented sandal wood which has many spiritual significations, is used daily in all the rituals in Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple and also in the conduct of Snapana Thirumanjanam (celestial bath) performed during special occasion to the processional deities and also in the weekly Abhishekam to the Moola Virat (presiding deity), Vasanthotsavam, etc.

The practice is based on the deep-rooted belief that Malayappa is very fond of Sugandha Dravyas and also as a cooling effect (Seethalam) to the deities, citing the age-old practice in vogue in the famed shrine in which sandalwood paste is daily applied to the deities’ foot and also to Vakshsthala lakshmi of the main deity and Bhoga Sreeniva during Ekantha seva, the last ritual before the closure of the temple for the day.

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