For the first time in its history, a scheduled tribe person will soon become a priest in a shrine, managed by the apex temple body Travancore Devaswom Board, in Kerala.
In a path-breaking move, the TDB, which manages over 1,200 shrines across the southern state, has decided to appoint 19 -- 18 belonging to the scheduled caste and one from the scheduled tribe, as priests in its shrines on a part-time basis.
The TDB is an autonomous temple body which manages many famous shrines including the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple.
"This is for the first time that the temple body is appointing a scheduled tribe person as a priest in shrines under TDB," state Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran said in a Facebook post.
People from these communities are appointed in the part-time shanti (priest) posts through special recruitment, he said.
So far, 310 people have been selected for the post of part-time priests in the Travancore Devaswom Board from the rank list, published in 2017, he said.
As there were not enough eligible candidates from the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities for the examination at that time, a separate rank list was prepared as per a special notification for them, which was published on November 5, he said.
Though there were four vacancies notified for the ST community, only one application was received, the minister said.
After the Left government came to power, the recruitment board was restructured and a total of 815 people had been selected for various posts in Travancore, Cochin and Malabar Devaswom Boards, the minister added.
A total of 133 non-Brahmin priests have been appointed in various temples in the southern state in the last four and half year tenure of the government, official sources added.