Other States

Pandharpur temple allows female and non-brahmin male priests

Lord Vitthla's statue in the Pandharpur temple. A file photo.

Lord Vitthla's statue in the Pandharpur temple. A file photo.

For the first time in nearly the 900-year-old history of the famous Vitthal Rukmini temple in Maharashtra, non-Brahmin male and female priests performed the puja on Friday.

“We are committed to perform our duty as per directed by the law. We are grateful to the support extended to us from all quarters of the society,” said Sanjay Teli, executive officer of the Vitthal Rukmini Temple Trust (VRTT). He said that all daily services of Lord Vitthal and his consort Rukmini (or Rakhumai) will be performed as per the traditional way.

The temple, a favourite of the Warkari sect in Maharashtra, attracts over two crore devotees a year. During the Hindu month of Ashaadh, lakhs of Warkaris and other pilgrims from across the State walk to the temple.

The Supreme Court in its verdict on January 15, 2014, stripped Brahmin families (Badve and Utpat) of their right to appoint priests and keep the donations. The families had claimed ancestral rights over the temple.

Following the verdict the VRTT interviewed 129 candidates for the post temple priests, in which non-Brahmins and 16 women candidates were included. While speaking to The Hindu in May this year, Anna Dange, the chairman of the trust had said that it was time to set an example and no group should claim monopoly for serving as priests in the temple.

However, the decision to appoint non-Brahmin priests was opposed by several warkari organizations and local groups. “We decided not to entertain the opposition. They still oppose our decision, but they are free to do so. We had an obligation to perform our duty and we have done that,” said Mr. Teli.

Among the 10 priests appointed by the committee, two women priests have been given the responsibility to perform Rukmini’s puja. Among the eight others, Racheyya Hiremath is from Karnataka while Kedar Namdas represents the 17th generation of Saint Namdev of Bhakti sect.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2022 7:02:45 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pandharpur-temple-allows-female-and-nonbrahmin-male-priests/article6272617.ece