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India: Three women break glass ceiling, to soon become temple priests in Tamil Nadu


Active member
hree young women in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu have broken the glass ceiling and will soon become the assistant priests at temples in the state, breaking a long-standing male-only tradition, after duly completing their training to assume priesthood.

Though Indian women have made their mark in professions across diverse field, a religious taboo still persists in many parts of the country that bars them from working as temple priests.

The three women completed their course to become priests under ‘All-Caste Priests’ scheme in Tamil Nadu where the state government runs six training schools to train priests from all communities. This is the first time ever when women enrolled and completed the course.

Media reports say that the three women completed training for priesthood under Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the government and will be soon designated as assistant priests in temples in the state.

fit for any adhi prasakthi temple....or any mari amman temple...finallly loosing slowly brahminhood profession.....
Have you noticed one thing; we men have hair dressing saloon one or two between the two streets. At some places there are a bit more. But ladies saloon and classes 10 in one street alone. If I see four to six street put together there is 30 to 40. So where does the taboo go? Then surely as you said Goddess Temples must be managed by female priests. God's male priests and Goddess female priests. Ultimately you see what is in the vessel of God's blessings reaches to the plate or hands of the Devotees. In between serving spoon are the true priests.
Wishing them ALL THE BEST
Of course the change is finally here!

In progressive Tamil Nadu, it is reported that two temples allow women to perform pooja
One is Linga Bhairavi" temple situated in Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev ashram in Coimbatore, where only women are allowed to enter the inner sanctum of the temple and other is at Melmaruvathur near Chennai where women are allowed to perform pooja even during menstruation.

Even women priests are doing puja in Hindu temples​

Priesthood courses: Women like Chitra Lele are challenging traditional notions of priesthood. And they are learning to do that at Pune's Dyanprabodhini center, which was started by a social reformer. The school's imposing stone building is located in the bustling old part of the city. More than 20 women are currently enrolled in the one-year priesthood course. They come from all Hindu castes. Most are housewives between 40 and 65 years of age. They are trained in religious rituals and each of the 16 sacraments of Hinduism. And they’re taught Sanskrit, the country's classical language in which the Hindu religious mantras are chanted - and which few Indians understand.

"We have a great pleasure that women who are learning here are performing outside in society very confidently. They are progressive but they still preserve our ancient traditions and culture also", says Aarya Joshi, teacher of the course. The 30-year-old explains that women priests largely perform religious ceremonies at private homes – not at temples. And they don't perform funerals or death rites either. They are more widely accepted in big cities than in more conservative rural India.


The reason for not having was more to do with physical aspects. Women take over family responsibility and physically the strain is tough to do the poojas sitting hours and worse during festivals to carry and go around the temple and procession on elephant etc. Add to it the family life and children and pregnancy, that will make continuity a problem. There is now a feeling that it was inequality. It is not. Physically some of the aspects are really stressful. The mentally and physically capable men only are appointed. So women can also do it. When women are hardly allowed to visit temples, it is a very difficult task to fight against them becoming priests in temples.​

Read more at:​

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In the Tantric way of worship, menstruation is not a disqualification. And women are given the yagnopavida as well, when they're given the mantra deeksha.
Is there any dearth of male priests? What is the problem in the male priest system that warrants to thrust women into this profession? Are there not any other avenues where ladies can be employed productively? Can the establishment implement this scheme in mosques, Churches or Gurudwaras?
Families welcome female Hindu priests

One of the very few women who have broken yet another male bastion, Gadgil always wears a bright smile though not necessarily a priest's robes.


A rise in the number of women priests in various parts of the country and their increasing social acceptance indicates that times are changing,” says Gadgil

”Whatever the beginning — whether necessity or an intent to reform the profession — priesthood is better off by taking in more women members who add value to it”.

Read more at:
Is there any dearth of male priests? What is the problem in the male priest system that warrants to thrust women into this profession? Are there not any other avenues where ladies can be employed productively? Can the establishment implement this scheme in mosques, Churches or Gurudwaras?
1) there does seem to be a dearth of male priests.
2) There is NO system that " warrants to thrust " women into "priest hood ". if a woman wants to be an officiating Vaadhyaar ( shall we not call them ' priests' ), what's preventing her - except the male attitude that women are fit only for cooking, cleaning, and ministering to her husband's needs ? Of course there are umpteen "avenues" where ladies can be employed productively - why don't you think this is also one of them ?
3) During menstruation, there are magnetic changes in the woman's body which may not be conducive to / act against the vibrations produced by the mantras to be chanted while attending to homams / consecrating poojais, etc - that's the main reason why women were asked to keep away from deities and other religious occasions . In fact, if a woman is given a mantra dheekshai, she is empowered to chant it at ALL times, of whatever age she might be.
4) Nobody is talking of gurudwaras, churches, or mosques here. Islam prohibits women from coming into the mosque at all - for them women are third class citizens; though churches and gurudwaras have nothing against women coming to worship during menstruation, they have their own set of rules about women becoming " priests ". Moreover, unlike the Christian clergy, our priests are not celibate.
5) For your information - Vedic days did NOT prevent women from learning to "officiate " as priests
All this came much later -like the covering of the head with a vastram by even Sumangalis - so much in practice in North India , but shunned by us in the South , is a direct example of the Muslim invasions.
6) In every walk of life, when a woman comes in, or is allowed to take part, there has always been a change for the better, and " Life is enriched " - as another member said !!
The idea that women become equal to men by making them do what a man does is misplaced. Women are more than equal to men. So why try to make them equal to men. Complementing is what is supported by nature.
I am not surprised. It will be news and may be a shocking one for those who do not accept equality for women. I had seen reports of such female priests (even for ceremonies at home ) in Pune and/or in other places in Maharashtra.
Most of the time such news are more of dramatic 'tokenism', political symbolisms and at times genuine necessity.

While every political party cries loud for women empowerment, Dalit empowerment, etc, when it comes to their parties, it is not practiced, and umpteen justifications are given to fool and deceive their naïve followers.

It is best left ignored. When the income from priesthood is not sufficient as per expectations, and the many limitations and restrictions in life style attached to it there will not be many coming in future.

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