Special Story on bell beaters of Srivari Temple–Vouches

Tirumala, October 12: Vouche’s – the word emanating from Hindi has a great link to the customs and traditions of Srivari Temple at Tirumala. It has a Kannada connotation as ‘Panju’ (meaning a torch).

Here ’Vouche’s are employees appointed to herald the arrival of prominent archakas with either the beating of a bell or holding a torch (kagada) during nights. According to Gururaj, the superintendent of Temple customs, Vouche’s ring the bell and hold the Kagada not only on a daily basis but also strike the special bell called ‘Jaganta’only on special occasions.

He says these vouches are not hereditary or have any rights over the traditional job. ‘It is a sort of dafedar presence in the office of a district collector’. Here the vouche holds the traditional torch (stick with fire) at night or beat the Jaganta during day time so that the archakas get way and are distinct among the in crowds .Besides in those days the Srivari temple was surrounded by forests  and needs  either torch or  bell beating to scare  the wild animals away .

TTD official says that in the olden days the priests were held high esteem and were given precedence everywhere.’TTD has not abandoned the historic practice but has restricted it to only main archakas‘. The Vouche presence during important festivals like Pavitrotsavam, Puspayagam and Brahmotsavams will showcase the temples hoary past and commitment to traditions and practices, he says.

So it is in fitness to say that the TTD and the Srivari temple at Tirumala are not only custodians of ancient traditions in Agama and Vaisankhayana shastras but only in small remnants of past practices.