Hire a child for quick darshan at Tirupati
Atop Tirumala Hills, Touts Rent Out Kids For Rs 200
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Tirumala: Are you a couple with no kids and still want to have a Mahadwaram darshan of Lord Venkateswara — a quick visit meant for couples with children? No problem. There are touts offering kids on hire.
The charge is Rs 200 per hour for an infant and if the demand is more, the rate goes up to Rs 500. A flourishing “infant on hire” racket atop the Tirumala Hills, kids are rented out for couples to gain an easy entry into the temple.
Talking to TOI, N Vijaya Lakshmi of Nanganallur in Tamil Nadu said: “My friend who got married recently tried her best to get darshan tickets. When her attempts failed, she and her husband paid Rs 250 to a broker, hired an infant and finished their darshan in two hours flat.”
Sources said an infant is rented out three to four times a day and the touts pocket a cool sum by the end of the day. “During peak hours and festive days, we repeat the infant six times,” a tout said.
Temple sources said not less than 2,000 couples and 10,000 physically handicapped pilgrims, who are also given the Mahadwaram privilege, have darshan of the lord every day. The Mahadwaram entry for mothers carrying small kids was introduced by the TTD in May 2007 to ensure darshan in a couple of hours and avoid long queues. After protests from women that their husbands should also be given direct entry, the TTD board allowed them from July 1.
On the thriving infant racket, a former temple official said TTD officials should issue onspot photographs of the family to check whether they have children and then allow darshan. When contacted, top TTD officials said they are introducing biometric and finger-ink systems to keep tabs on the misuse of the Mahadwaram entry by couples.
But experts feel the system would not help. “The reason: fine rays and rings on the palm are not fully developed in infants who are less than a year old. If the TTD opts for the ink system, it can be easily erased using nailpolish remover,” an expert said.