TIRUCHY: The dawn of August 15 came heralding a new beginning in the lives of these priests, ending their 13-year-long wait to perform archana at major temples. These non-brahmin priests heaved a sigh of relief as they could finally recite slokas, spiritual poems, perform archana, and pujas at various temples. Though they are happy about getting an opportunity to serve God at famous temples coming under HR and CE Department, the trolls, memes, and disinformation being spread on social media do cause them a lot of pain.
Chief Minister MK Stalin on August 14 handed over appointment orders to 24 trained non-brahmin archakas to fill vacancies at various temples across the State. Of them, 10 got appointments in Tiruchy temples, including Samayapuram Mariamman Temple and Vayalur Murugan Temple.
Though this has led to debates among political circles, it has brought an end to a long legal battle and hardships faced by these newly appointed archakas.
These are priests who finished their training in 2007 and spent over 13 years waiting to serve God in major temples. The fact that all of them are below the age of 35 shows they have been interested in the spiritual matter and been into related work from a very tender age.
The archakas have been currently allotted sannidhis inside the temples to perform archana, while senior priests continue to do puja in the main sanctum sanctorum.
For Mahesh Kumar (31), the appointment as archaka at Muktheeswarar Temple in Samayapuram is nothing less than a beginning of a social revolution.
"This is surreal. My devotion to God began as a kid, when I started performing abhishekam to small statues in my house. After undergoing all the required training and clearing all interviews, I feel so special to offer prayers in one of the notable temples in the State. So many people who have mocked at me for years are now sending wishes and I am reaping the blessings of all the good deeds performed by my father and forefather."
S Prabhu (30), a son of a tailor; M Velmurugan (33), a son of a farmer; and Sabarinath (33), a former worker at TNPL, it is nothing short of a dream performing archana as a priest to the dieties they have worshipped so long. Prabhu, who has been appointed as archaka at Vayalur Murugan Temple said, "I joined the archaka training centre at the age of 17. After we completed our training, we ran into legal impediments for our appointment. Meanwhile, I took up jobs as priests in private temples here and also in Singapore. I have privately performed rituals for marriages, house-warming events and other functions. Though I was earning enough to run my family, I always wanted to do pujas in historic temples. More than money, it is all about satisfaction."
Velmurugan, who has been appointed as archaka at the Naganathaswamy Temple, said that he felt like he personally got independence this August 15. That he is the only HR and CE appointed archaka at the Naganathaswamy Temple makes him excited, he said.
S Jayabalan (31), working as archaka in Vayalur Murugan Temple said, "My father, grandfather and my relatives have been offering prayers at temples for generations. Familiar with the prayers and slokas from a young age, I decided to join the archaka training school in Palani hoping to get trained properly. I am delighted that the day has finally arrived."
Expressing resentment over trolls on social media, Jayabalan and Prabhu said insensitive comments create a lot of pain. "We have come here to do spiritual work and serve God. We cannot understand why there are so many trolls like this," they said.