Casteism has remained a major problem in India for many centuries. Dalits and backward castes weren’t even allowed in the vicinity of temples nearly 9 decades ago. In1924, Vaikom Satyagraha took place to ensure that temple road in the then Travancore state were opened for all castes. In 1936, a royal decree was passed for Dalits and OBCs to be allowed entry into temples.
On October 9, 2019, Travancore Devaswom (Temple) Board (TDB) appointed 5 Dalits as priests of temples breaking all the major barriers of social injustice for Dalits. The priests were selected by the recruitment process of TDB followed in government posts, including reservation norms.
The selected 5 priests are –
1. P R Yadukrishna, 21
Priest, Shiva Temple at Valanjavattom, Pathanamthitta District
2. Pradeep Kumar K M, 31
Priest, Dharma Sastha temple, Narayanamangalam in Ernakulam District
3. Manoj P C, 31,
Priest, Siva Temple at Arakkappady near Perumbavur
4. Jeevan G, 26,
Priest, Maha Vishnu Temple, Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam
5. P S Sumesh, 35,
Priest, Devi Temple, Nelluvila in Kollam district
Earlier the examination was conducted by TDB in 2016, interviews were taken early this year, and appointment of 62 priests was done, of whom five are Dalits. In 1970, following strong opposition from the Brahmin community, the TDB changed the designations, 10 priests, to clerks and shifted them out of the temples. Later in 1993, after an order from Supreme Court, OBC priests were again allowed in temples.
Post’s and Temples have always remained a topic of debate between Brahmins and other castes. Unlike their ancestors, the new-age Dalit priests Armed with degrees from some prominent Vedic colleges, and at ease with rituals, have worked at private temples too. But, being part of the TDB is an altogether different matter. The most prominent of the four autonomous temple boards in Kerala governed by the state government, the TDB manages 1,252 temples in South and Central Kerala, has nearly 2,500 priests on its payroll and handles an annual revenue of Rs 390 crore. Its portfolio includes 70 major temples, including the famous Ayyappa Temple at Sabrimala.
Also Checkout: Prithviraj Kapoor: The legendary actor who left a strong impact on the audience with his craft