In a move that is likely to bridge the caste divide in Kerala, state’s Travancore Devaswom board has recommended the appointment of 36 non-Brahmins including 6 Dalits as priests in temples that come under board’s purview.
The temple board has shortlisted a total of 62 people for the post, of which 36 are either Dalits or from other backward castes. Tests and interviews were conducted after which a list was prepared. The total reservation for SC/ST and OBC categories is 32 per cent, which makes room for 20 candidates, however, as many as 36 persons from backward communities were selected which means 16 were chosen on merit. Notedly, it’s a first in the history that 6 people from the Scheduled Caste category have been appointed as priests.
Speaking to Indian Express, Board chairman Rajagopalan Nair said, this was the first time that SC/ST and backward communities were given reservation in recru the tment of priests.
“Earlier, we had some priests from backward communities who made it to the list through merit. The Travancore Devaswom Board came into existence in 1949 and the demand for reservation for Dalits in appointment of priests has been persisting for several decades. Previous attempts to meet the demand had faced stiff resistance from certain quarters. But now we have made it a reality,’’ Nair said.
Underlining that due procedure was followed by the Public Service Commission in recruitment of priests for temples under the Travancore Devaswom Board, he also said, in future, priests in other devaswom boards, particularly Cochin and Malabar, will be done in the same manner.