TN's priest training schools to resume sessions in 2022

Tamil Nadu's priest training schools to resume sessions in 2022

Two schools have issued advertisements for admission to a one-year course, which will begin next year

Representative picture. Credit: DH File Photo

Three months after appointing 24 non-Brahmin priests, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu has revived Archakar Payirchi Palli (Priests’ Training Schools) that have invited applications from students belonging to all communities for pursuing a one-year course. 

Two schools attached with Arulmigu Aranganathar Swamy Temple in Srirangam and Arulmigu Parthasarathy Swamy Temple in Chennai’s Triplicane have issued advertisements for admission to the one-year course, which will begin in 2022. 

The students will be trained in Vaishnavite tradition, while the schools that train priests in Shaivite tradition in Madurai, Tiruchendur, Palani, and Tiruvannamalai will also follow suit by issuing the admission process. The schools, which have not been functioning since 2008, are being spruced up to welcome a new set of students. 

The advertisements issued by the two temples say the applicants, Hindus, should have completed at least the eighth standard and should be between 14 to 24 years of age. While the last date for submission of applications differs, the students who are selected for the year-long course after due process will receive a stipend of Rs 3,000 each per month. 

Also Read — Non-Brahmin priests in Tamil Nadu: A progressive step

DH had on August 20 reported that the Tamil Nadu government has decided to revive six Archakar Payirchi Palli that were first opened in 2007 by the then M Karunanidhi-led government and that it will train interested women as well to become priests. 

Sources in the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department said a few changes have been made to the curriculum in the year-long course to ensure that the to-be priests are given practical training for a few hours every day on ways to perform rituals and exercise their duties. 

The six training schools — four for Shaivite tradition and two for Vaishnavite tradition — were launched to end “caste discrimination” in the appointment of priests and ensuring social justice, a core principle of the Dravidian movement. 

However, due to a slew of court cases and a regime change in 2011, the training centers became non-functional. After a Supreme Court ruling in 2016, the then AIADMK government had appointed two priests from non-Brahmin communities. The DMK dispensation which took over in May this year inducted 24 trained non-Brahmin priests and decided to revive the training schools. 

The new government’s move was hailed as “historic” and projected as one of the achievements of the DMK dispensation in the first 100 days in office. The move also landed in a row with reports that existing priests were removed to make way for the trained ones, a charge stoutly denied by Stalin the state Assembly.

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