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Non-Brahmins as Priests in Kerala Temples

Pujas in Kerala Hindu Temples were handled by priests who were Brahmins by birth. The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages thousands of temples in Kerala including the famous Sabarimala Temple, have started appointing Non-Brahmins as priests.
Times of India reports 
In the last two months, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) filled up 50 out of the 100 posts for pujaris (priests) with non-Brahmins, who will soon start performing rituals in shrines assigned to them among the 2,000 temples under TDB.
TDB had conducted a recruitment drive six months ago and interviewed hundreds of applicants belonging to all castes and they selected 199 pujaris, out of which 40% were non- Brahmins. 
"Even our ancient scriptures say a person becomes a Brahmin through his deeds and life-style than by birth,'' said additional chief secretary K Jayakumar.
Though caste is no bar for becoming a shanti (priest), TDB, in its latest notification has stated that the applicant must have an elementary knowledge of tantra-shastra, Sanskrit and a certificate from a Board-approved tantri (senior priest). 
"He also should be a Malayali Hindu who is aware of the Brhaminical tradition.'' said Krishnan Nambudiri, general secretary of Tantra Vidya Peetam, Aluva, a member of the interview board who selected the pujaris. 
"Many non-brahmin candidates did equally well in terms of recitation of mantras and knowledge of tantras. They all attached tremendous aspirational value to these posts,'' he said.
But some community members are upset at the entry of non-brahmin priests, especially when many poverty stricken brahmin families have no option but to subsist on dakshina. "For brahmins, this is not just a job. In spite of all odds, the pujaris are still doing it out of sheer faith in God. The wisdom is passed on from father to son in an oral tradition. The belief should be inculcated form the childhood and the sanctity begins from home and family first,'' said Subramanian Potti, officer bearer of Vaidika Samrakshana Samiti. 
Poet Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri said it is not varnam (caste) but vasana (inclination) that matters. "According to vedas any person can conduct a puja, but it is important that he becomes a Brahmin first, not just externally but internally. The devasom board should rehabilitate impoverished brahmins by providing them clerical positions before opening up this sector,'' he said. 
Olappamana Damodaran Namboodripaad, former president of Brahmaswam Madom, said that caste should be no bar for offering puja in the temple. "But the pujari should realise the immense responsibility that has been entrusted on him and should lead an ascetic life,'' he said.