If a plan to train women as priests is accepted, temples in Tamil Nadu may soon have female priests. “We will take steps to provide training to women who are interested in becoming priests. We will take this proposal to the chief minister (M K Stalin) and get necessary approvals,” PK Sekar Babu, the minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE), told reporters last week. Several women have petitioned the agency for permission to perform poojas at temples, he said.
Women are Archakars (temple priests) in a few temples around India, and the minister noted that women are already doing poojas in temples in rural areas.
In addition to Sanskrit, the newly elected DMK government would take steps to ensure that poojas and mantras are recited in Tamil. They intend to put up boards at 47 temples with the names and phone numbers of priests who can execute the rites in Tamil.
The minister went on to say that they would carry out a government decision issued in 2006 by the late former chief minister, M Karunanidhi, which permits non-Brahmins who have undergone training to become priests in Tamil Nadu. The chief minister would shortly make a statement about the appointment of priests from all castes, he said. “This will happen in another 100 days when the scheme will come into full force,” he added.
Approximately 200 non-Brahmins who completed a one-year junior Archakars training in 2007-2008 are still awaiting an appointment. The DMK offered their jobs in its electoral manifesto without specifying a number.