Tamil Nadu ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member and Minister of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE), PK Sekar Babu recently said that the state government would take efforts to ensure that prayers in the temples under his department would be offered in Tamil. He also stated that the non-Brahmins,who have completed the one-year junior Saiva archakar course as per Agamas, would be made priests within a hundred days of the present government.
This declaration of non-brahmin priests in HR&CE temples was met with questions on Monday, to which the Minister responded by saying, "The chief minister (M K Stalin) will speak through his action. It will bring happiness to everyone."
As a measure to bridge the caste hierarchy among Hindus in the HR and CE temples in Tamil Nadu, the former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's government had launched the one-year junior Saiva archakar course in six temples in the year 2007 to give any non-Brahmin Hindu the opportunity to become a priest, reported The Times of India.
The Brahmin supremacy in the Tamil priesthood has been a tradition for a long time. Despite the 2007 introduced policy, the first such appointment of a non-Brahmin priest in a temple in Tamil Nadu was met with protests and court cases back in 2018. This was followed by a gap of two years to the next appointment of a non-Brahmin priest in Tamil Nadu's Nagamalai, situated near Madurai.
The hesitation and reluctance among people to call a non-Brahmin priest to perform rituals in their functions further add to the hierarchical divide. It also leads to the non-Brahmin priests undergoing difficulties in managing their livelihood.
Despite the policy for HR and CE temples stating that the recruitment of priests by the board members of the temple trust would not be on the basis of caste, the non-Brahmins have always had a harder time in getting the opportunity.