Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Saturday handed over orders to 208 persons, including 24 trained archakas of all castes, for appointment at temples being managed by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments.
Priests have been appointed to temples, including at the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, the Oppiliappan Temple, the Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple, Madurai, and the Vayalur Murugan Temple. The government also filled 20 posts for ‘odhuvar’, 17 for ‘poosari’, one for mahout, two for garland stringers and one for umbrella carrier.
The trained archakas have been waiting for government postings at temples that are governed by the Agamas since 2008 when they finished training at the Archaka training school in Tiruvannamalai.
The State already has two non-Brahmin archakas in temples run by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments. The first, Marisamy, was appointed in 2018 to an Ayyappan temple in Madurai and the second, Thyagarajan, to a Ganesha temple in Madurai in 2020.
Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments P.K. Sekarbabu said it was Periyar’s dream that persons of all castes should become priests at temples, and it was former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi who had made it reality. “These appointments were made only after due processes were followed. They were interviewed and their knowledge of the agamas and rituals was tested,” he said.
S. Prabhu, who has been appointed at the Vayalur Murugan Temple, said he had trained in 2007 and simultaneously completed B. Com at Annamalai University. “I had an opportunity to conduct pujas at temples in Singapore and Malaysia. I also acted as a priest for weddings and other functions. I am delighted to have got this posting, and will work hard,” he said.
Suhanjana Gopinath, 28, who has been appointed as ‘odhuvar’ at the Dhenupureeswarar temple in Chennai, said she was extremely delighted to have been appointed. Her family, including husband and in-laws, were supportive of her. They planned to shift their home near the temple so that she could also take care of her child.
“I studied under Karur Saminathan sir, and he wanted us to spread the message of Thevaram and Thiruvasagam among the people, which I will strive to do,” she said.
V. Ranganthan, of the Tamil Nadu Association for Trained Archakas, said their long-standing demands had begun to fructify. “The DMK government, led by Mr. Stalin, has kept its word. The decades of pain and sufferings endured by trained archakas are being wiped away. We hope that more persons will be provided training and jobs at temples,” he said.
HR and CE Secretary B. Chandramohan, Commissioner J. Kumaragurubaran and religious leaders participated in the event.