On my trip to the Dharmaraya temple, I found a Shakthi Temple right next to it in the same complex. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the priest was an elderly lady. The deity was Mutyalamma, her sister and her sister’s children. The service (seva) was similar with aarti and kumkum and flowers. The lady declined to let me take a pictures, so I didn’t. I came home and checked with my father and he asked me to read about ganacharis. I didn’t find much info about that online so far. So I am still searching. I did learn that the priests in Mutyalamma temples are not Brahmans. I found this very interesting.
Then I discovered online that in USA and Bombay there are trained women Vedic priests. This is a new wave that I was not aware of till recently. It is being called a silent wave. The women priests are considered very dedicated and qualified. They are performing weddings and so forth. Many Hindus still prefer the male priests. Many don’t even know about the women priests.
There are remote temples in Kerala where traditionally only Priestesses officiate. A Vedic academy in Pune trains ladies to officiate as priests for various religious ceremonies. In Thanjavur district, a well versed elderly lady used to function as priest for neighbourhood ceremonies.
However long I live and however much I study, maybe I will never know everything about India.
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