Sangh outfit backs non-brahmins as priests in Kerala temples

Sangh outfit backs non-brahmins as priests in Kerala temples
A Sangh outfit on Wednesday said it favoured the appointment of all "qualified" persons irrespective of caste as priests in all temples, including the famed Lord Ayyappa temple. Kerala created waves with the appointment of non-Brahmins as priests in state shrines.

The 'Hindu Aikya Vedi', a state-based right-wing outfit, said anybody knowledgeable with regard to 'pooja' and 'tantra' as prescribed by the tradition, is eligible to enter the sanctum sanctorum of shrines and perform rituals.

Aikya Vedi state general secretary E S Biju said the outfit is of the view that a person, who acquires knowledge in pooja and tantra, becomes a 'brahmin' through his deeds, though he is not so by his birth.

"There is no need to consider caste pedigree as a base to appoint priests in shrines. The non-brahmins, who have prescribed qualifications, are eligible to enter the portals of sanctum sanctorum and perform pooja in any temple, including the famed Sabarimala and Guruvayur shrines," Biju said.

His remarks came days after a non-brahmin priest came out against the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) alleging that he had been denied the chance to become the priest of Sabarimala Temple as only Brahmins could apply for the post.

After the recent appointment of 36 non-brahmins, including six Dalits, in various temples under TDB, Kerala is now witnessing a debate over a statement of 'tantri' (head priest) of Guruvayoor Temple in Thrissur favouring the entry of non-Hindus in the shrine.

Quoting the historic Paliyam Proclamation made in the late 1980s, Biju said, "We are opposing even the term non-brahmin... Because, when a person acquires knowledge in pooja and tantra, he is naturally elevated to the status of the so-called Brahmin through his karma (deed)".

A similar meeting held in Guruvayoor in 1961 had urged the authorities to allow persons who have adequate qualifications in performing pooja to work as priests.

When asked about the Guruvayoor head priest favouring non-Hindus' entry in the shrine, Biju said the Aikya Vedi completely backs the entry of anybody, including those belonging to other religions, provided they have faith in Hinduism.

"They should have complete faith in Hindu religion and obey the customs of the temple... If such a decision comes, it will help hardcore devotees like legendary singer Yesudas to enter the shrine and offer worship, which is his long-pending demand," he said.

Legendary singer K J Yesudas, a Christian by birth, has been denied entry to the famed shrine for being a non-Hindu.
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