From time immemorial, the temples and sacerdotal jobs in India have always been under the monopoly of upper caste communities and rarely does one come across information when the scenario is otherwise.
The caste system in India is among the world’s oldest forms of social stratification, which is practised to this day and finds many communities being ostracised from public spheres and even places of worship.
So, when a state’s temple-governing board has motioned the appointment of 42 priests from non-Brahmin and Dalit communities, it is not only momentous but a remarkable example of veering away from age-old social stigmas.
Known for its progressive initiatives, the move is a first even for a state like Kerala.
The Kerala Devaswom Board, which has been managing around 3000 Hindu temples and their assets across the state and ensuring their smooth functioning by traditional rituals and customs, has indeed scripted history with its recommendation of recruiting 36 non-Brahmin and 6 Dalit individuals as priests in temples falling under its Travancore division.
Following a selection process of written test and interview, the Devaswom Recruitment Board has released the appointment list that includes merit and reservation appointments as well.
According to the local daily Mathrubhumi, Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran had directed the Board to conduct the appointments following the inclusion of merit and reservation list. A total of 62 priests have been enlisted. Of 36 selected people from the backward community, 16 found a place in the merit list.
Apart from inducting non-Brahmins, this is for the first time in the history of Travancore Devaswom Board that people from Scheduled Caste category are being employed as priests.
For communities that have faced discrimination based on their caste, opening the doors of temples by Kerala Devaswom Board is not only a sign of hope but also something other states in the country can take inspiration from.