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Tamil Nadu Govt Appoints 3 Women Priests In Hindu Temples, CM MK Stalin 'Hails New Era Of Inclusivity And Equality'

The three women benefitted from a state program to train and appoint people from all castes as priests, and have since completed training at the Archakar (priest) Training School run by the Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli.

Krishnaveni, Ramya and Ranjitha- the three newly appointed female priests in Tamil Nadu
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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Thursday announced the inclusion of women in temples as priests under the Dravidian model of governance. Despite the feats achieved by women as pilots and astronauts, they were still exclusively barred from the sacred role of temple priests, but this will change under Dravidian Government, said Stalin. 

"In Tamil Nadu, as our Dravidian model government has removed the thorn from Thanthai Periyar's heart by appointing people of all castes as priests, women are also now stepping into the sanctums, bringing a new era of inclusivity and equality.” Stalin said. 

The three women benefitted from a state program to train and appoint people from all castes as priests, and have since completed training at the Archakar (priest) Training School run by the Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli.

S. Krishnaveni, S. Ramya and Ranjitha will become assistant priests at Sri Vaishnava temples in Tamil Nadu, following the Pancharathra agama, by next year. They are the first three women to have undergone training as Bhattars in the State and to have studied at the Archakar Training School run by the Sri Ranganathar Temple in Srirangam. While Ramya is a postgraduate degree holder, she joined the Archakar school to follow her calling of serving the Lord and become an archaka.  

“We have broken a male bastion and have trained to be priests. Hopefully, we will get placed at major temples so that we can get good exposure, and also learn more. We have only Chief Minister M. K. Stalin to thank for this opportunity,” sad Ramya, from Chennai.

Ramya travelled  from her hometown in Mel Adhanur in Cuddalore district to the city to receive her certificate from Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister(Hr&CE) P.K. Sekarbabu at a function in Chennai on September 12, 2023. P K Sekar Babu had said in 2021 that women could be appointed as priests in temples after their training.

“When these young woman applied for the course, we had interviewed them and found that they had the right aptitude to study and work as Bhattars. They attended the course regularly, during which time they were provided with a stipend. All the archaka trainees will get stipends during their internships too,” Sekarbabu said.  

S Krishnaveni, a graduate in B.Sc. Mathematics degree also joined this service to serve her Lord. “My father and grandfather serve at the Mariamman temple in our village. According to the Pancharathra agama, all of us have received Dheeksha from the Mannargudi Sendalangara Jeeyar during the sixth month of our training. This agama is said to have been handed down by Lord Sri Narayana to five rishis over five nights. Neither I nor the others are worried about the pay, as we believe that the Lord will provide for us,” she said.  

A total of 98 archaka trainees and four odhuvar trainees were given their certificates at the event, in which HR&CE Special Officer J. Kumaragurubaran and Commissioner K.V. Muralidharan were also present.

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