Dhananjayan Namboodiri who has been chosen to be the head priest of the Malikappuram Devi temple at Sabarimala for the coming pilgrimage season was a CPM leader till two years ago.
“I was a CPM branch secretary some years ago and still continue to be a staunch leftist like many of my relatives. But I requested the party to excuse me from party activities so that I can pursue my profession as a priest#,” he told Deccan Herald from Sabarimala where he is undergoing training under the temple tantri (supreme priest).
Though Marxists were theoretically non-believers, Namboodiri believes there is no such bar in the party. “I don’t think the CPM has ever barred party members from practising their religion and I don’t think there is any distinction between leaders and members in this respect,” he said.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has indeed clarified that there was nothing wrong in a CPM member being a religious person. However, he had made it clear that “party leaders” were expected to be “practising Marxists” in personal life as well. Perhaps that must have prompted Namboodiri to abandon his responsibilities in the party.
Nevertheless, the 40-year-old new head priest of the famed Malikappuram Devi temple is elated at being chosen for the assignment. Both Dhananjayan Namboodiri and Shashi Namboodiri (chief priest of Sabarimala Ayyappa temple) were chosen by draw of lots at Sabarimala on Monday.
For Shashi Namboodiri, 59, who has been applying for the coveted post in the main shrine for the last 15 years, luck has favoured him in his last chance. Both priests will take charge on the evening of November 16 at Sannidhanam when the hilltop shrine opens for the Mandala-Makaravilakku season.
The priests will remain “purappedashanti” or resident priests for one year when they will not be able to venture outside Sabarimala.