Marking yet another progressive step in its glorious history, the Kudroli Sri Gokarnatha temple in Karnataka's coastal city of Mangalore is set to induct two widows as archakas (temple priests) on October 6.
The women priests will be accorded traditional 'chende' welcome at the temple on Sunday. They will then be taken to the sanctum sanctorum where the idols of Shiva and Annapoorneshwari are placed. The women will perform the puja inside the sanctum sanctorum. Subsequently, they will consecrate the idol of Dattatreya in the temple premises.
"We are yet to open up as a society providing equal opportunity for all. No holy texts have barred women from performing puja in a temple. I am not sure why widows should stay away from all religious practices. Why this discrimination? No widow should be isolated because of her marital status," former Union minister and senior Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary said.
Nothing will stop the temple authorities from going ahead with the appointment of the widows as priests, he added. All sections of the society have welcomed the initiative of Poojary, who has been championing the cause of women's rights.
The temple, which was set up by Narayan Guru, an 18th century social reformer from Kerala, will pay monthly salary to both priests.
The temple, which is backed by Poojary, has implemented several revolutionary steps in the past. In 2011, during the Dasara celebrations, the temple allowed widows to perform 'Chandika Yagna' and pull the silver chariot, which is an exclusive domain of men and married women in other temples. Priests also forbid widows from taking part in any religious practice in other temples