The Travancore Devaswom Temple Recruitment Board has created history by including six dalit priests in the list of recruits that has 36 people from non-Brahmin communities.
Though the Travancore Devaswom Board had employed non-Brahmins as priests in the past, this is the first time that dalits have been selected for the job. Six dalits have been selected by the Board.
The recruitment board finalised the list of 62 priests of which 36 are non-Brahmins on Thursday. The selection was made after conducting a written test and interview in the model followed by the state public service commission. Till now, the recruitment was done by the concerned devaswom boards and non-Brahmins rarely found place in the final list. There are 26 priests belonging to the Brahmin communiuty in the list.
“We are not against the decision to appoint non-Brahmins as priests in temples. But there has to be a system to ensure that those who are being appointed have knowledge of tantric mantras. The recruitment should not be made following reservation norms. It should be made purely based on the knowledge and the belief systems followed by temples,” said Akkeeraman Kalidasan Bhattathiripad of All India Brahmin’s Federation.
Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran had directed the Board to make the recruitments based on merit. The written tests for the post of priests were conducted following this. Based on the written test a merit list and reservation list were prepared.
S Sudhikumar, a priest belonging to the Ezhava community, was not initially allowed to join duty as kizh shanti (sub-priest) at the Chettikulangara Devi temple, after being transferred last month from another temple under the devaswom board.He could join duty only after intervention by the devaswom minister.