Tamil Nadu non-Brahmin priests are a hopeful lot these days after Kerala temples reluctantly welcomed a change to the Brahmanical domination.
Kerala has recently appointed 62 priests to serve in temples administered by the Travancore Devaswom Board after subjecting the candidates to tests. Out of the 62, 36 were non-brahmins of which six were dalit candidates. It was the first time six people from the scheduled caste community have been recommended for the appointment as priests. It was the appointment of Yedu Krishna, the Dalit archaka appointed by the Travancore Devaswom Board, that led to this change.
That’s when Stalin, leader of the opposition in Tamil Nadu, chose to point out how the Tamil Nadu government had failed its priests by not appointing archakas (priests) irrespective of their caste. Over 206 archakas trained by the state government remain unemployed.
PMK founder S Ramadoss tweeted a very pertinent line, "Appointing archakas from all communities has been possible in the land (Kerala) to which Periyar went, but still remains a dream in the land (Tamil Nadu) where he lived and won."
Now, after the leaders have spoken out lauding the Kerala government for its progressive step, Tamil Nadu priests have taken up the cause hoping that the ambiguity is ended. The ambiguity has been caused by a decision by the Supreme Court which though upheld the State government’s right to appoint members of all castes as priests, another part of the verdict stated: “appointment of archakas in temples following Agama rituals of individual temples concerned would continue”.