Payment for Temple Servants


When the temple began to employ permanent staff in the 16th century, the main method of payment was "in kind" rather than cash. Servants were paid in cooked and uncooked food, clothes and some cash. The temple, to this day, pays a majority of its servants in food stuffs. The kitchens of the great temple work around the clock to cook the food that must be supplied to the servants as part of their payment. Special sevas, festivals and manoraths required extra work from the servants, hence, on such occasions more food was distributed to the servants to compensate them for their "hard" work.

Apart from the cooked food, uncooked rice, wheat, pulses, salt, sugar etc. are also given on a monthly basis. Clothes are given on seasonal basis and some furnishings, such as mats, are also given to the servants. In addition to the annual pay, temple servants get an extra portion of rice, sugar etc. on special family occasions such as a marriage in the family. Only a small portion of the "pay" was ever made in cash. In the old days, it was not considered necessary.

As times have changed, cash has become the favoured mode of payment in all walks of life - except the temple. To make up for this gap in earnings, the temple servants sell their portion of the food that comes to them from the temple. Pilgrims love the various sweets that are made in the temple, but, as these are not always directly available from the temple, they buy these off the temple servants. Now-a-days, this is formalised in the form of shops that sell the prasad from the temple. Temple servants have annual contracts with these shopkeepers and they collect this prasad directly from the temple. This way, the servants get the cash they want/ need and the pilgrims get the prasad they want.

� Bhagwat Shah

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