By Dr.Pradeep Jain
Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in Thiruvananthapuram, India. The shrine is currently run by a trust headed by the royal family of Travancore. In line with the Temple Entry Proclamation, only those who profess the Hindu faith are permitted entry to the temple. Devotees have to strictly follow the dress code. In the sanctum sanctorum, Sri Padmanabha reclines on the serpent Anantha or Adi Sesha. The serpent has five hoods facing inwards, signifying contemplation. The Lord\’s right hand is placed over a Shiva lingam.
The biggest festival celebrated in this temple is laksha deepam, which means hundred thousand (or one lakh) lamps. This festival is unique and commences once in 6 years. Prior to this festival, chanting of prayers and recitation of three vedas is done for 56 days. On the last day, hundred thousand oil lamps are lit in and around the temple premises. The next laksha deepam is slated on January 2014.
The temple and its assets belong to Lord Padmanabhaswamy, and are controlled by a trust run by the Royal family. The Kerala High Court ordered the temple and its assets be managed by the State on 31 January 2011. As trustees of the temple, the Travancore Royal family have challenged the Kerala High Court\’s decision in the Supreme Court of India.A revelation has solidified the status of the Padmanabhaswamy temple as one of the wealthiest temples in India and with the final estimate of the wealth, it might overtake the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple—hitherto thought to be the wealthiest temple—having some 32,000 crore or 320 billion (US$5.82 billion) in gold, coins and other assets. It is estimated that the value of the monumental items is close to 1.2 lakh crore or 1.2 trillion (US$21.84 billion), making it the richest temple in the world. If the antique value is taken into account, these assets could be worth ten times the current market price.