Why Aadhar is mandatory for temple rituals at Tirupati

The temple administration is using the Aadhar number as a way of crowd control and to allow devotees from across India to use services evenly


Tirupati administration earlier made the use of Aadhar mandatory for visits by local devotees to check on repeated visits by the same person. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Tirupati administration earlier made the use of Aadhar mandatory for visits by local devotees to check on repeated visits by the same person. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: While governments are upbeat about using the unique Aadhar identification number to cut down on pilferage of subsidies, private organizations too are beginning to use the platform to manage their affairs.

Last week, the Tirupati temple administration in Andhra Pradesh, the largest and richest among places of religious worship in India, made having Aadhar mandatory for booking the much sought-after ritual known as Angapradakshinam.

Aadhar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) after collecting biometric data of residents.

Angapradakshinam is a form of rolling prostration before Lord Venkateswara—the main temple deity—where devotees prostrate and roll inside the temple premises, hoping their wishes will be answered. The ritual begins at 2 every night after pilgrims take a holy bath at the Pushkarani (pond) adjacent to the temple.

Despite the rigour of the act of rolling on the floor in wet clothes, the temple administration was having a hard time distributing tickets to worshippers. Only 750 tickets are given every day, while the demand is much higher. On lean days, the temple gets over 40,000 devotees and the number crosses 100,000 on festive occasions.

“The tickets are limited and we wanted to make sure that the same person is not using the facility repeatedly,” said T. Ravi, the public relations officer for the temple. “We chose Aadhar card as it is the most widely used form of identification and will help us to spread the temple facilities evenly among devotees,” he added.

The temple administration earlier made the use of Aadhar mandatory for visits by local devotees to check on repeated visits by the same person.

Across the country, governments are now using Aadhar to authenticate beneficiaries and prevent duplication in schemes like subsidized public distribution system and delivery of domestic cooking gas.

So far, more than a billion Indians have been enrolled in Aadhar, about five-and-a-half years after the programme was launched. In March, the Lower House of Parliament passed the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, as a money bill, giving it statutory backing.

“The Tirupati example shows that the private sector too is using the Aadhar platform to deliver services,” said an official from UIDAI, requesting anonymity. “In future, the Aadhar platform can be used by mobile phone companies to authenticate identity of a user and cut down the time to activate a new connection.”

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