News channels in the two Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra are often known to take sides on all political issues, but the recent “Kaartheeka maasam” that was celebrated in the two states, seemingly brought out something more - The relationship of the media with religion.
Deepotsava, also known as the festival of lights, is celebrated in the month of Kartika (October-November) every year.
According to ISKCON, "In this (Kartika) month, devotees observe strict vows (Damodara Vrata) and worship Lord Damodara by offering a ghee lamp every day. It is said that by offering a lamp to Lord Hari in the month of Kartika one gets unlimited prosperity, beauty and wealth. All the sins committed in thousands and millions of births perish; and one attains the eternal spiritual world where there is no suffering."
It would seem that the local media in the two states have a lot of “sins” to “perish”, as three major TV Telugu channels, held massive events during the month.
It started with Bhakti TV, owned by the Rachana Television Private Limited (RTPL), which is also the parent company for NTV.
With the hashtag #KotiDeepotsavam, the channel hosted an event that lasted from November 5 to 21, at the NTR stadium in Hyderabad.
The channel has hosted the very same event at the same venue for the last five years now.
The event also hosted actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan, who drew a huge crowd.
Pawan in his speech, like all others that spoke before him, thanked businessman Narendra Chowdhury, who is the chairman and managing director of RTPLA and NTV.
Though not as grand as the event in the common capital of the two states, ETV Andhra decided to hold its own special event in the newly-formed Andhra.
The channel, which comes under the Eenadu group, owned by Ramoji Rao, decided to host its event in Guntur district, near the upcoming capital of Amaravati.
With the hashtag #etvdeepotsavam, this event starred Andhra chief minister, who gave a 15 minute speech, in praise of the event and the newspaper Eenadu and ETV.
The channel's Telangana branch, held a similar event for the same event in Hanamakonda in Warangal district.
The event held by TV5, which is owned by Shreya Broadcasting Pvt Ltd, was relatively small, and was held in Andhra's Rajamundhry, at the Arts College ground for two days.
The event kicked off at Godavari's Pushkar Ghat in the city, with #ShivaPravathulaKalyanam.
Besides featuring Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu as the chief guest for its “Maha Yagam”, the channel also had drones dispatched, to cover the event.
While the media is free to cover any religious event, hosting one with such grandeur under its own brand name, either from the company's funds or with the help of sponsors, is bound to raise eyebrows.