Mangalore Temple Appoints Dalit Widows as Priests
MANGALORE: The veil of secrecy was finally lifted on Monday when two middle-aged widows, wearing jasmine flowers and golden yellow sarees, gingerly set foot inside the Kudroli Gokarnanatheshwara Temple premises and were inducted as priests.
This was not the first time that widows were being inducted as priests at the temple. But this time, the women, 65-year-old Lakshmi from Chilimbi and 46-year-old Chandravathi from Kutthar, were also from Scheduled Caste communities.
Organisers had maintained strict secrecy about the programme, simply telling everyone till now that it was going to be a “social reform event of national consequence”.
Former Union minister B Janardhan Poojary, chief strategist of the event, led the two women to the Gangavathara fountain, located on the right side of the temple’s entrance. There the women washed their legs and sprinkled water over their heads. To the pulsating sound of drums and brass cymbals, the women were ushered inside the temple where they had darshan of the various deities. After entering the sanctum sanctorum, the wicks were lit and the women performed aarati.
The newly-inducted priests paid obeisance to saint-reformer Narayana Guru, who had established the temple in 1912.
Later at a press conference, Poojary said no permission was required to appoint women from SC communities as priests. Where laws have failed, such actions will help in restoring the respect and dignity of women, he said. “Today a message on untouchability ceasing to exist and humanity prevailing in its place has emerged from Kudroli Temple,” Poojary said.
Poojary also revealed that as a young boy, he too had been a victim of untouchability. A priest, on learning his caste, had thrown him out of the temple. “I have no grudge against Brahmins,” he said, while responding to a query on whether he intended to end Brahmin monopoly over Vedic rituals by appointing priests from SC communities.