FOLK Artists serving under the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam conducted a Mahapadayatra for seven days in their long drawn struggle on seven demands. Venkateswara is known as the God of seven hills. Symbolising that, the artists conducted this padayatra for seven days on seven demands. The artists in respective teams participate in the ritual services of Venkateswara throughout the year. Though they come from remote villages, they were not given proper recognition and minimum courtesies. This yatra started on September 21 at Madanapalle of Chittoor district and culminated on 27th at the Administrative building of TTD at Tirupati. Thousands of folk artists mainly from Chittoor and some from Kadapa and the adjoining districts of Karnataka participated in it. Men and women with their instruments walked all the way. They took the spirit of Kisan Long March of Maharashtra.
The padayatra converted into a dharna at the Administrative building and was addressed by MLCs V Balasubrahmanyam, Y Srinivasulu Reddy, MLA Ch Baskar Reddy and V Srinivasa Rao who expressed their solidarity to the struggling artists. The JEO had discussions with the artists’ leaders and accepted to place this as an agenda in the ensuing TTD Board meeting, scheduled on October 9. P Yadagiri, leader of the Folk Artists’ Organisation thanked the participants and pledged to continue the struggle, if the authorities don’t stick to their word.
The demands are:
1. Travel charges to be reimbursed fully for the teams attending Akhand Bhajan.
2. All the temples that have Bhajan teams to be provided with a mike set and other musical instruments that they require.
3. The gurus, those who teach, to be felicitated every year and be given honorarium.
4. Insurance to be provided for all artists who are enrolled in the Dharma Prachara Sabha.
5. New teams to be enrolled on the basis of a guru. They should be allowed for free darshan of Venkateswara, when they perform the bhajan.
6. Identity cards to be issued to all artists, enrolled in Dharma Prachara Sabha.
7. Man Gudi, Kunkum puja etc are to be conducted in all the temples where the teams exist.