Those who have been trained in Agama Shastras (rules on worship and related aspects) and below 35 years alone were appointed as archakas, the minister added. (Representational Image: DC)
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday said there has been no violation in the appointment of people of all castes as archakas (priests) to the temples being managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department.
HR&CE Minister P K Sekar Babu also denied that Brahmin priests, especially Archakars and Bhattacharyas, were selectively targeted while making the appointment of the fresh batch of archakas.
"All the 58 persons who were appointed as archakas are duly qualified and there is no violation of the constitution as being alleged by a section of the priests, the Minister said.
Reacting to a charge by a section of existing Brahmin priests that their services were abruptly terminated and new archakas were appointed in their place on Monday, Babu claimed "some Hindutva forces who don't want others to come up (in life) have taken up a mischievous campaign."
Those who have been trained in Agama Shastras (rules on worship and related aspects) and below 35 years alone were appointed as archakas, the minister added.
The move follows the decision of former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi who wanted people of all castes to become temple priests, he added.
"Kalaignar (as Karunanidhi was known) ensured an amendment to the HR & CE Act (in 1971) abolishing the customary practice of hereditary appointment of priests for temples, Babu said.
He further said that if striving for the upliftment of the oppressed sections is a mistake, "then Chief Minister M K Stalin (Karunanidhi's son) will repeat the same mistake."
He claimed that the services of no Brahmin priests were terminated and assured the government would look into complaints, if any, that they were asked to leave the temples.
Implementing its electoral promise of appointing aspirants belonging to all castes as temple priests, the DMK government had on August 14 appointed trained 'archakas' of various communities as priests in shrines.