Months after the Travancore Devaswom Board that governs Chettikulangara Devi temple in Mavelikkara in Alappuzha district cancelled the appointment of a non-brahmin priest, the board re-appointed him on Tuesday.
The board's decision comes after Sudhikumar, a priest belonging to the Ezhava caste (an OBC caste in Kerala) appealed against its move quashing his appointment order. He has now been appointed as keezhshanti (assistant priest) at the temple.
Although Sudhikumar was appointed to the post in June this year, the Hindu Matha Convention in the temple objected to the appointment of a non-brahmin priest, thereby stalling the process.
The Hindu Matha Convention - reportedly run by people belonging to the BJP and RSS - had objected to Sudhikumar's appointment, claiming that if a 'non-Brahmin' man is allowed to work as a priest, it would â€˜anger the goddess.â€™
Sudhikumar was working at the Puthiyidam Sree Krishna Swamy temple in Kayamkulam before his appointment to the Chettikulangara temple, and had been sent back there after his appointment was cancelled.
Confirming the news to TNM, 36-year-old Sudhikumar said that he is glad to be reappointed to the Chettikulangara temple.
"I have not got the order copy yet, but board officials informed me about it this evening. After I get a copy, I will be relieved from this temple and will join Chettikulangara temple soon," said Sudhikumar, who has been working as a priest in several temples for the past 19 years.
Asked whether he fears resistance from groups that opposed his appointment, Sudhikumar said that it was up to the board and the government to intervene if such circumstances arise.
Speaking to TNM earlier, Sudhikumar had alleged that the main priest in the temple and the temple administration had denied him entry into the temple.
â€œI donâ€™t know why they are stuck on 18th century beliefs. The temple has a Hindu Matha Convention - called Sridevi Vilasam - which does not exist in any other temple under the Travancore Devaswom Board. The convention is run by RSS-BJP people, and it's their agenda that non-Brahmin people shouldn't be allowed in as priests," he had said.