Advertisement
Tuesday, Oct 26, 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 shocked when they see me conducting a marriage or a naming ceremony, but once they witness the actual rituals, they leave impressed," she says. A resident of the Aliabad area in Hyderabad's old city, Vasudha has performed over 1,000 marriages. She studied Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads in Varanasi, and when not conducting ceremonies and yagnas, teaches Sanskrit at the Nava Jeevan Mahila College. "When I conduct a shanti yagna, a marriage or a griha pravesh (house-warming), I make sure everyone understands the meaning of the Vedic mantras. The Vedas are meant for all; that should not be forgotten," she says.


Vaishnavi Devi at a family...
Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

A Message Not Delivered, A Matisse Painting Never Gifted: A Co-Star’s Tribute To Shah Rukh Khan

A Message Not Delivered, A Matisse Painting Never Gifted: A Co-Star’s Tribute To Shah Rukh Khan

Sayani Gupta, a star-struck teenager who acted with SRK, reveals what endears the superstar to his millions of fans across the globe.

In Valley, Amit Shah Says No To Talks With Pakistan, Yes To Dialogue With J&K People

In Valley, Amit Shah Says No To Talks With Pakistan, Yes To Dialogue With J&K People

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah Sunday called for talks with Pakistan for the sake of peace in the region.

IPL: RPSG Group, CVC Capital Win Bids To Own New Teams

IPL: RPSG Group, CVC Capital Win Bids To Own New Teams

RPSG Group will be based in Lucknow while CVC Capital will have Ahmedabad as their base city from IPL 2022.

With Lalu, TMC Taking Potshots At It, Congress Faces Trouble From Anti-BJP Regional Parties

With Lalu, TMC Taking Potshots At It, Congress Faces Trouble From Anti-BJP Regional Parties

The challenge Congress faces at present is it has to fight not just internal dissidence and the BJP but deal with anti-BJP regional parties, who are no longer seeing it as a viable ally.

Advertisement