Management, Revenue, Trustees and Administrators
The management of the Devasthānam is no easy affair. It involves arrangements for the regular services in all the 37 temples, conduct of festivals, kumbhābhishekams and other purification ceremonies, and looking after the needs of mammoth crowds, safe custody of jewels (value: Rs. two crores), fool-proof security arrangements to prevent thefts of sculptures and bronzes, providing for the comforts of the devotees, problems of health, sanitation and transport, purchase of stores, construction of new buildings and maintenance of existing ones, administration of a number of institutions (schools, colleges, hospitals etc.), liaison with Railways, Transport, Police and Archaeology Departments and attending to the requests for help from various temples and for worthy causes. It also includes periodical opening of hundis and their proper accounting. It also means control of a staff of nearly a thousand persons in the sub-temples and allied institutions. In fact, the Devasthānam is a ‘state' by itself within the State of Tamil Nadu.
In India, the income of the Palani Devasthānam is next only to that of the Śrī Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati and the Guruvayurappan Temple in Kerala.
The pre-eminent position of Palani is not confined to income alone. The Palani temple has been the first in India to operate an electric winch to a hill temple for the convenience of pilgrims. It was the first in India to open a college of theology (Indian culture). It was the first in Tamilnadu to make a golden chariot (car) for the Lord.
The day-to-day administration at Palani in is the hands of an Executive Officer (who has the rank of Deputy Commissioner). This is the only temple in Tamil Nadu to be administered by an Executive Officer of the cadre of a Deputy Commissioner and so it is under the regular and continuous superintendence of the Commissioner, H.R. & C.E. Administration Department, Government of Tamil Nadu at Madras.
From time to time, requests are received from far-off countries for performance of abhishekam and archanas. Donations pour in, in small sums and large, earmarked for particular purposes like mandapams and buildings and for construction of cottages. All these requests are attended to and the donors kept in good humour.
The Executive Officer works in close consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Trustees are appointed by the Commissioner for a term of three years and they elect a Chairman from among themselves. All of them work in an honorary capacity. But their responsibility is such that a few of them including the Chairman have almost to work full-time sacrificing personal comforts etc. The Trustees decide the policies, give the general directions, take steps to increase the income and sanction the budget. They appoint and control three types of functionaries (1) those engaged in purely spiritual services like conducting the worship, chanting mantras and reciting sacred hymns (2) those employed in administration and in maintenance of accounts and (3) those who render various kinds of services in the non-religious institutions of the Devasthānam.
The over-all control is by the Commissioner of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Administration Department and the Honorable Minister in charge of this portfolio. The H. R. and C. E. Act of 1927 is a far-reaching measure providing for proper administration of temples, diversion of funds for charitable purposes and Constitution of Boards of Trustees, auditing of accounts, verification of jewels and other properties etc. This Devasthānam and the Endowments attached thereto have been declared a special grade Notified Temple by orders of the Government.
Personal Assistant to E.O.
The Executive Officer is assisted by a Personal Assistant of the rank of an Assistant Commissioner. The P. A. works under the Executive Officer and is in charge of the over-all control and administration of the Hill Temple and winch. He supervises the conduct of Kala Pujas and festivals, sale of tickets, sale of Panchamirtams and Tirukkovil Publications. He also inspects Rest houses, and Tonsure Sheds, and ensures the timely collection of lease amounts due for temple lands.
Superintendents and Peshkars
There are two superintendents for each of the three groups (1) Hill Temple (2) Town Temple and (3) Tiru Avinankudi group of temples. Each pair of Superintendents do their work in turn duties. Their work consists of administration of the temple in keeping with the direction of the Executive Officer, controlling of crowds, supervision of abhishekams and archanas, looking after the sanitary arrangements, escorting V.I.P.s and providing amenities for the pilgrims.
Under the Superintendents, there are several peshkars, all of them experienced in temple service for a long number of years and assisted by maniyams, accountants, archana clerks and orderlies.
In the Devasthānam office itself, there is an experienced Manager assisted by a band of competent superintendents, section clerks and cashiers.