India is a country of gods and goddesses and temples. In India, religious worship (pravachan), festivals etc. are made on a very large scale. Every year lakhs/crores of people reach from far and wide in some of the major temples of India. Due to which small shopkeepers and people associated with tourism around the temple are of great benefit. Due to each small and big temple, many people engaged in the construction of nearby shops, stalls, goods sold on them and transportation of devotees coming to the temple also get direct and indirect employment.
economics of temples in india
According to NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation), the total share of religious visits in India’s total domestic gross product (GDP) is 2.32 per cent and the economy of temples in India is 3 lakh crores. You will be surprised to know that 55% of Hindus spend 50% of their travel expenditure on religious trips.
A comparative study of the expenditure of Indians by NSSO, in which the per capita expenditure of Indians on religious travel is about Rs 2,717 per day, on social travel Rs 1,068 per day, while the expenditure on educational travel is Rs 2,286 per day. That is, religious expenditure is double of all travel expenses.
The expenditure on religious pilgrimage in India is Rs 1316 crore per day. And the annual expenditure on religious travel is Rs 4.74 lakh crore.
NSSO data shows that Indians do more pilgrimage than business travel and spend more on pilgrimage than travel for education. The government is also trying to link this scale of expenditure with the country’s economy.
Dhani Temple in India
The richest temple in India is the Padmanabha Swamy Temple located in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. The treasury of this temple consists of diamonds, gold ornaments and gold-silver idols. The temple is believed to have assets worth $20 billion and the sanctum sanctorum houses an idol of Lord Vishnu worth Rs 500 crore. This temple is maintained by the royal family of Travancore.
Tirupati Balaji Temple of Andhra Pradesh is second among the richest temples. This temple of Vaishnav Samaj is the richest temple in terms of donations. Every year 680 crore rupees are donated to the temple. Tirupati Balaji Temple is a famous temple of Lord Vishnu. The temple has 9 tonnes of gold, 14,000 crore rupees kept as fixed deposits in the bank.
In the third place is the temple of Sai Baba in Shirdi, Maharashtra. Every year the temple receives a donation of 380 crores. Apart from this, 460 kg gold, 5428 kg silver and 18000 crore rupees are deposited in banks including international currency like dollar-pound.
Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, one of the Shaktipeeths, receives a donation of 500 crores every year. Lakhs of people from the country and the world come to visit this temple every year. This temple is situated in Jammu and Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiri people living nearby are getting employment due to this temple.
The treasury of Ujjain Mahakal temple has also been filled by the devotees with open heart. According to the temple committee, the temple collected a donation of 81 crores in the year 2022, which is estimated to cross 100 crores at the end of the financial year. Apart from this, till September 2022, gold worth 34 lakh and silver worth 88 lakh 68 thousand have been received near the temple.
The annual income of Meenakshi Temple Madurai (Tamil Nadu) is Rs 6 crores. Everyday about 30 to 40 thousand people come to visit it.
Not only temples, there is a business of lakhs and crores in many types of religious events. In 2019, the Uttar Pradesh government got a revenue of about 1 lakh crore in the 50-day Kubh Mela in Prayagraj. Airlines companies got 1.5 lakh crore due to tourists from abroad. Apart from this, 49 thousand tour operators, 95 thousand tourism and medical people also got employment.
Where does the temple spend
Padmanabh Temple of Kerala spends crores of rupees annually on salary and devotees coming. Despite the huge treasury, most of the income of the temple is spent and during the Corona crisis, the expenditure of the temple was more than its income. Shirdi Sai Baba Trust spends 50% of its income on medical, education etc. Apart from this, along with the development of super-speciality hospital, road construction, water management and Shirdi airport, he has also contributed to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.
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Is there any tax on temple donation or treasury?
There is no provision of any tax on any religious institution. Donations to religious institutions are not considered as income. That’s why neither income tax is levied on him, nor any sales tax or service tax.
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Story first published: Sunday, November 27, 2022, 9:34 [IST]