Women to Serve as Temple Priests in Tamil Nadu, Breaking Decades-Old Tradition

Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, MK Stalin, has announced a significant milestone for gender equality in temple priesthood. In a recent post on social media platform X, he highlighted the progressive strides being made in the state’s temples, where women are now gaining access to the revered role of priests.

Stalin emphasized that despite women’s remarkable achievements as pilots and astronauts, they were historically excluded from serving as temple priests, often deemed impure even in temples dedicated to female deities. However, the winds of change are sweeping through Tamil Nadu, thanks to the Dravidian model of governance.

Under the leadership of the Dravidian model government, a program has been implemented to train and appoint individuals from all castes as temple priests. Notably, this initiative is not limited to men, as three women have successfully completed their training at the Archakar (priest) Training School, which operates under the Sri Ranganathar temple in Srirangam, Tiruchirappalli.

This progressive move aligns with the vision of the renowned reformist leader ‘Periyar’ E V Ramasamy, who passionately advocated for inclusivity in temple priesthood. He once described the exclusion of non-Brahmins from performing priestly duties as a “thorn” in his heart.

It’s important to note that even prior to this development, some temples in Tamil Nadu had already welcomed women as priests. Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister P K Sekar Babu had previously affirmed in 2021 that women could indeed be appointed as priests in temples, provided they undergo the necessary training.

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