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Sangh Parivar outfits hail verdict on temple priests

Sangh Parivar outfits hail verdict on temple priests

Author: PTI
Publication: The Hindu
Date: October 07, 2002
URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2002/10/07/stories/2002100704910400.htm

Sangh Parivar outfits in Kerala have welcomed the recent Supreme Court verdict on appointment of non-Brahmins as priests in temples, saying the apex court ruling ``will help reinforce the internal unity of the Hindu society''.

The State units of RSS, VHP and the Kerala Kshetra Samrakshana Samithy termed the ruling as a ``historic verdict which will be welcomed by all sections of Hindus'' and wanted devaswom boards and temple trusts to come forward to implement it.

While holding that properly-trained non-Brahmins could be appointed as `pujaris', a two-member Bench of the apex court last week upheld the appointment of K.S. Rakesh, who belongs to the Ezhava community, as pujari in the Kongarpilly Neerikkode Siva temple in Ernakulam district. Mr. Rakesh was trained in the Tantra Vidya Peethom in Aluva.

``Ending discrimination among the Hindus is essential for the survival of the Hindu society. In that sense, the verdict is the fulfilment of the cherished goal of reformers such as the late Mannath Padmanabhan and R. Sankar,'' the Sangh ideologue and Bharatiya Vichara Kendram Director, P Parameswaran, said.

``This is also the logical conclusion of the historic temple entry proclamation of 1936, when the temples of the state of Travancore were thrown open to all sections of the Hindus,'' Mr. Parameswaran said.

The RSS and its affiliates in the State claimed that the verdict was an endorsement of their position enshrined in the 1987 `Paliayam proclamation' made at a conclave of vedic and tantric scholars who wanted all sections of the Hindu society integrated into the mainstream by ending caste monopolies and restrictions. The RSS leader from the State, the late P. Madhavan, had then played a key role in convening the conclave.

The verdict was also welcomed by the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, socio-cultural organisation of the Ezhava community.

Mr. Rakesh, who was the sole non-Brahmin to apply for the posts of `santhi' in temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board in 1992, was appointed as a part-time pujari.

The Kerala High Court upheld his appointment, when the matter came up before the court in 1993. He was promoted as a full-time `santhi' and posted in the Vavakkad Ayyappa temple in 1998. Mr. Rakesh's appointment, however, was questioned in the apex court through a special leave petition filed by Adityan Namboodiri. The court ruled that non-Brahmins too could be appointed as `santhis' if they were properly trained and well-versed in the rituals.

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