Mangaladevi Temple Nets Rs 9 lakhs from Auction of 71 Navarathri Stalls-Muslim Traders Not Allowed
Mangaluru: Amid disappointment from a section of people about excluding Muslim vendors from opening stalls at the Mangaladevi Navarathri Fair, the endowment temple has earned a record revenue of Rs 9 lakh plus in its maiden attempt of individually auctioning 71 stalls as against the earlier Rs 3 lakh when given to an individual who later would allow them to vendors.
However, the Hindu Jatra Vyaparastara Sangha had objected to the temple calling bid for selecting one person, who later allocated spaces to vendors during the Navarathri and Annual Fairs. It was alleged that the individual was collecting exorbitant rent from vendors inconveniencing them. Dakshina Kannada in-charge Deputy Commissioner K. Anandh on October 4, directed the temple management to conduct individual auctions for each of the 71 stalls coming up on the temple’s Car Street. The auction should be conducted as per the Hindu Religious Charitable Endowments Act and Rules, he said.
Temple management completed the auction process on 11 October 2023, said an official from the Muzrai department who noted the individual auctions brought in over Rs 9 lakhs revenue instead of the earlier Rs 3 lakh. Unfortunately, the Muslims were not allowed to participate in the auction. Rafeeque, who had regularly been keeping a stall during Mangaladevi fairs was denied participation in the auction this time with the temple management quoting the Act and Rules that prohibited non-Hindus from opening stalls for temple fairs. Abdul Khader and Mohammed Sharique, who have been putting up stalls for the last two decades, said it was the first time they faced this situation.
Spaces for the stalls were marked by the temple committee, and the stall auction prices were based on the location of the stall site, ranging from Rs 7000 to Rs 25000, and above. The stalls closer to the temple went for higher prices. The owners of the ‘ Mr & Mrs Delicious’ stall selling Twist Potato, French Fries, Matka Kulki Soda, Mojitos etc said that they paid Rs 25,000 for the stall to run the business during the festival starting from 15-24 October.
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District Jatra Vyparastara Samanvaya Samiti Convener B.K. Imtiyaz said the stalls are put up on City Corporation lands and not on Temple lands; the Act is not applicable here. Dr. Anand said the Act and Rules bar the lease or auction of stalls and shops belonging to the department temple lands to non-Hindus. However, the rule will not apply to lands belonging to the local administration.
The DC said the temple administration has sought permission to auction 37 more stalls for which there were no takers. Meanwhile, the Vyaparastara Samanvaya Samiti has urged him to allow non-Hindus to participate in the auction. He said there was no restriction in the previous auction too and anyone can participate in the forthcoming auction that should be held transparently.
A couple of days ago, a forum of traders, who conduct business on grounds, had urged the district administration to intervene and take action against the ban on merchants belonging to a particular area during temple fairs. Dakshina Kannada and Udupi District Festival Traders Coordination Committee had submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada through Additional Deputy Commissioner G Santhosh Kumar, even as the city is all set to celebrate Navratri festival from October 15. festival
Committee honorary president Sunil Kumar Bajal stated in a memorandum that Muslim traders are not allowed to conduct business during Hindu festival fairs. “Muslim traders were given space to conduct business during the Navaratri festival at Sri Mangaladevi Temple and other temples in the city every year. While the festival will be held at the temple this year from October 15 to 24, Muslim traders have been denied space to conduct business. It has affected a large number of merchants, who depend only on festival fairs for their livelihood. Their right to life is being snatched away,” Sunil stated.
He also said that an attempt has been made to divide society in the name of religion. “Poor festival traders are being targeted and this also leads to a communal divide. Hence, the district administration should take steps to allow merchants from all communities to conduct business during festivals,” he urged. Merchants also urged the Mangaluru City Corporation authorities to take necessary action in this regard. “During festivals, stalls for the fairs are set up in the properties that belong to the MCC in many temples. However, the contractors have been charging huge amounts from merchants directly,” Sunil said.