Kottayam: Breaking the deep-rooted caste bias in priestly appointments, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) in Kerala has recommended Dalits and other backward castes candidates for the post of part-time priests in temples.
First time in the history of TDB, the devaswom recruitment board has recommended the appointment of Dalits for priestly responsibilities in temples. Significantly, in a recruitment drive that sought to appoint 62 priests to the temples under the TDB, more number of non-Brahmins qualified for the job.
While 36 candidates made it to the final list from the non-Brahmin castes, only 26 of the selected candidates were from the Brahmin community, which has traditionally hegemonized the job.
The 36 non-Brahmins selected for the job, include 6 candidates from the scheduled castes.
Sixteen candidates from non-Brahmin communities made it to the list in the merit category and the rest found a place on the list through the state mandated reservation policy of 32 percent.
The representatives on the board also reportedly said that priest appointments, made through the PSC after a formal written test and interview, drew its finalists from merit lists without any caste bias, as directed by the devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran.
The recruitment board also said that priest appointments with reservation for backward castes will soon be made in temples under the Cochin and Malabar Devaswom boards.
Kerala, where backward caste members have already risen to the priestly ranks, had recently witnessed incidents where non-Brahmin appointments were objected to by temples citing 'customs'.