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Friday, Sep 24, 2021
Outlook.com

The Oracles Of Devi

Female and backward caste. Andhra's women purohits breach the twin barriers with each puja.

The Oracles Of Devi
Ravi Press
The Oracles Of Devi
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
The family purohit, the medium of communication with the Almighty for most Hindus, conforms to a stereotyped image—dhoti-clad, sacred thread across the chest, a smear of turmeric/sandalwood paste/ash on the forehead, and a tongue that unleashes an avalanche of shlokas and mantras. He is also usually defined by two crucial words: Brahmin; Male.

But those stereotypes are now crumbling in Andhra Pradesh. A group of women has not only stormed this traditional male bastion by turning professional purohits but have managed to prise open the once impenetrable caste barrier as well. Today, there are 20 practising women purohits in the state, most of them based in Hyderabad. Astound-ingly, about 90 per cent of them are OBCs. Most of these women have studied the Vedas, know Sanskrit and are degree holders from colleges certified by the Maharishi Dayanand University, Rohtak.

Vasudha Shastri, who performed the marriage of Telugu film actress Aarti Agarwal recently, exudes confidence at her job. "People used to the traditional purohits do look...
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