SPECIAL STORY ON SRI VENKATESWARA ANNAPRASADAM ON ITS 30TH ANNIVERSARY
ANNAPRASADAM COMPLETES THREE DECADES IN TTD
SAINT POETESS TARIGONDA VENGAMAMBA PIONEERED THE CONCEPT IN 18TH CENTURY
TIRUMALA, APRIL 3: “Aham Vaishvanaro Bhutva Pranimam Deham Asritaha
Pranapana-Samayuktah Pachamanyam Chaturvidham”
This is the famous verse Refered in Bhagwad Gita chapter 15, which signifies the importance of Annam-food to the entire humanity as well to the living creatures across the globe which is preached none other than by Lord Sri Krishna to Arjuna.
As per Hindu Sanatana Dharma, “There is no better puja or ritual than feeding a hungry living being. Annadanam is Mahadanam or the greatest donation in and is an essential part of our tradition.
Being the custodian of Hindu Sanatana Dharma, the temple administration of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTDs) has began Annadana Scheme about three decades ago in the year 1985 on April 6 by the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Late Sri NT Rama Rao.
HOW TARIGONDA VENGAMAMBA PIONEERED ANNADANAM IN TIRUMALA:
However it was Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba, the great saint poetess who pioneered the concept in 18th Century itself.
As per temple legend, on the divine instructions of Goddess Padamavathi Devi, the then In-charge of Hathiramji Mutt, Mahant Sri Atmaramdasji offered a small thatched hut in the present Rambhageecha gardens to Vengamamba.
The Saint Poetess used to perform penance under a tamarind tree present opposite her hut. During every Nrisimha Jayanthi (which usually falls in the month of May) she used to served scores of pilgrims who visit Tirumala during this period in the premises of her residence for ten days.
Seeing her charitable activity some devotees have given her “Dana Patras” (donations) between 1785 AD to 1812 AD with which she carried out her Annaprasada Vitarana till her last breath. Since then she became popular with the title “Matrusri” since she took care of the visiting pilgrims as a mother.
Following her legacy, TTD has began Annadana scheme in 1985. In the initial days, food is being served to just 2000 pilgrims on a day. But today, it has increased by many folds and on an average every day not less than 60thousand pilgrims are relishing the “Annaprasadam” in the abode of Lord Venkateswara.
NEW ANNADANAM COMPLEX RENAMED AS “ANNAPRASADA” BHAVAN:
Annaprasdam underwent many changes in the past thirty years, but however the quality of food, the items and menu that are being served to the multitude of pilgrims remained delicious in spite of the abnormal increase of pilgrim crowd.
Another interesting feature is the mammoth Annaprasadam Complex which was inaugurated in 2011 on July 7, by the then Hon’ble President of India, Smt Pratibha Patil was constructed in the area where Tarigonda Vengamamba’s thatched roof hut existed. Hence, the massive Rs.33crore complex was named in honour of her as “Matrusri Tarigonda Vengamamba Annaprasadam Complex” (MTVAC) which is a befitting tribute to the saint poetess.
DONATIONS POUR IN FOR ANNAPRASDAM TRUST:
Among the nine trusts and one scheme run by TTD, Annaprasadam Trust is considered to be one of the most important ones. In the last three decades donations have poured in and have been pouring as so far 3, 63, 297 donors proved their largessee. Among them, those who have donated between Rs.1lakh to 5lakhs constitute 16,671, Rs.5lakhs to Rs.10lakhs includes 1664, Rs.10lakhs and above includes 848 and those who have donated over one crore are 20 members while remaining others below Rs.one lakhs for the Trust.
So far the trust holds Rs.531.97cr in the form of fixed deposits in different nationalised banks and the interest on this amount is used by the Annaprasdam department to serve food to unlimited number of pilgrims every day. The annual expenditure for Annaprasdam is around Rs.70cr. While Rs.45cr is the money spent on the Trust as interest from FDs, TTD provides another Rs.25cr as matching grand towards the successful operation of Annaprasdam. In an year, on an average about 1.25cr pilgrims will be served food by Annaprasdam Trust, which includes MVTAC, outside lines, VQC compartments, foot path routes etc.
Under the instructions of TTD EO Dr D Samba Siva Rao and in the able guidance of Tirumala JEO Sri KS Sreenivasa Raju and Tirupati JEO Sri P Bhaskar, the Annaprasdam wing of TTD is carrying out the massive task of providing free food to the tens of thousands of visiting pilgrims every day with ease in the able supervision of its Deputy Executive Officer Sri S Venugopal, under the catering expertise of Catering Officers Sri GLN Shastry and Sri T Desaiah both at Tirumala and Tirupati respectively.
Every day about 13 tonnes of rice and 6tonnes of vegetables are being utilised to prepare Annaprasdams to visiting pilgrims. While TTD purchases rice from Rice Millers Association, major quantity of vegetables are procured in the form of donations from Donors hailing from the states of AP, Telengana, Orissa, Tamilnadu and Karnataka. Brinjals, Pumpkin, Tomatoes, Cabbage, raddish form a major portion of the donations.
STATE OF ART-TECHNOLOGY: TTD has designed MTVAC with state-of-Art technology. Four Massive halls which has a capacity to house 1000 pilgrims in a single sitting was constructed and the pilgrims are served with “Zero” waiting time. The vegetables are stored in Cold Storage rooms and there are separate rooms to store groceries also.
SRIVARI SEVAKULU IN ANNAPRASADA SEVA
Srivari Seva volunteers who are sanctifying their lives in the fellow pilgrim service, are further blessed for their impeccable free services in Annaprasadam. The free services of Srivari Sevakulu began in the year 2000 and since then they have been offering food distribution services. Later with the advent of annaprasdam complex, their services are extended to vegetable cutting also. Every day not less than Srivari Sevakulu are deputed to render services in the Annaprasadam complex, queue lines, VQCs and other areas wherever their services are required. During festival days and special occasions this figure doubles. Out of 5.75lakh srivari sevakulu who have rendered free services so far in various departments of TTD in the last 15 years, over two lakhs have rendered services exclusively in Annaprasadam department only.
ISSUED BY TTDs PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER, TIRUPATI