Bride doom for Hindu priests in Kerala

via http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/kochi/bride-doom-hindu-priests-518 published on May 28, 2011

The priest of a Hindu temple (santhikkaran in Malayalam) may be an intermediary of the Divine inside the sanctum sanctorum, but is not even considered a worthy groom outside it.

Hundreds of young priests in temples of South Kerala are in distress because no family is willing to give them a bride. “They are in a very sad situation,” said Akkeraman Kalidasa Bhattathiripad, president of the Yogakshema Sabha.

The reason is quite material. “Priests are officially equivalent to sweepers in the Travancore Devaswom Board’s scheme of things,” said Mr Radhakrishnan Potti, office-bearer of the sabha.

“Despite umpteen demands, the arrogant TDB is not even willing to give them the post of sub-group officer.”

Thanks to the measly pay (about Rs 5,000 per month) and low official grade, priests don’t get suitable brides. “And desperate youth trying to find brides through marriage bureaus are getting cheated by the dozens,” added Mr Potti.

Distressed by this, the Sabha has decided to conduct ‘on-the-spot’ Veli (marriage) at its Fest 2011 to be held at the Kottarakkara Brahmana Samooha Mathom on May 29 and 30.

“We will bring families of young men and women together and will also arrange a panel of astrologers to examine horoscopes,” said Mr Muraleedhara Bhattathiri, chairman of the fest. “The families will talk to each other and fix up matches.”

To resolve the sundry problems of Santhikkar, the sabha has also decided to set up a trade union of priests which will be given final shape at the fest.

“Priests don’t even have a welfare fund since they are not considered employees,” said Mr Potti.

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