In a move towards inclusion and acceptance of the people who were earlier looked down by the society due to their castes, The Travancore Devaswom (Temple) Recruitment Board has shortlisted 36 people from Dalit and backward communities as temple priests.

For the first time in the history of Kerala, the appointments of priests have been being made through interviews and necessary tests. In total, a list of 62 shortlisted priests was released on Thursday out of which 36 were non-brahmans including 6 from Dalit communities.

Referring to an official statement, Indiatimes report said, Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran had given instructions to comply with merit list and reservation norms while carrying out the appointments to prevent corruption.The total reservation for SC/ST and OBC categories is 32%.

26 candidates from the upper caste community were chosen on merit, along with 36 Dalit candidates. Out of the 36, 16 of them were also chosen from the merit list. This is for the first time the Travancore Devaswom is appointing six Dalits as priests,” a Facebook post by Kerala Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said.

These candidates will now be appointed in temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board, reported The Indian Express. The decision comes five years after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, said that eligibility of priesthood should be the knowledge of rites and traditions, not the caste.

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While the move is being seen as a progressive step, some people have expressed concern regarding the reservation systems being used in the appointment and believe that it should have been based on knowledge of tantric mantras instead.

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The move is being hailed as a step towards eradicating untouchability from the society.However, it completely depends on the people and devotees how they treat the new priests. Last month a priest from backward caste was appointed as a junior priest of Chettikulangara temple after which he had received a death threat.

Here’s hoping for a better India free from the shackles of caste and religion based discriminations!

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