21 June 2014

Pandharpur temple allows women, men of all castes as priests

Majhe maher Pandhari … (Pandharpur is my mother’s home …) Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s abhang (devotional song) is an ode to the Vitthal-Rukmini temple here. Mothers can now serve as priests in this temple. The 900-year-old place of worship is challenging the entrenched tradition of patriarchy and casteism in one stroke. The temple administration has already interviewed women and those from outside the Brahmin community for appointing them as priests. The Vitthal Rukmini Temple Trust (VRTT), which functions under the Maharashtra government, has made the radical move possible. “For the first time, a temple is throwing open its doors to everyone. We thought it was time now for us to set an example. No group should claim monopoly for serving as priests in the temple,” Anna Dange, chairman of the trust, told The Hindu.