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Hindu temples face priest shortage

 | February 7, 2013

Hindu temples in the country are again grappling with shortage of qualified Hindu priests to conduct prayers and rituals.

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindu temples nationwide are facing shortage of priests. This is because the Immigration Department is only granting visas for only one or two priests from India, to work at a temple.

The Petaling Estate Sree Maha Mariamman Temple board of trustees chairman A Vasudevan Nair said it was difficult for one or two priests to serve about 5,000 to 10,000 devotees who throng temples, especially during Hindu festives.

“While they allow barbers and restaurant workers from India to work here without any major restrictions, the same cannot be said for priests.

“Locals are not keen in performing duties of a priests. You not only need to perform prayers and rituals, you are also required to clean up the place and such. We appeal to the government to re-look this policy.

“The Hindu Sangam and MIC are mum on the matter and has never lifted a finger to help. MIC wants to build and rebuild temples without strengthening other components of the temple,” he told FMT today.

The issue of shortage of Hindu priests was brought up just after the 2008 general election. The government had entrusted Human Resources Minister and MIC vice-president S Subramaniam to look into the matter.

The government then came-up with a plan to send local Hindus to be trained, not only as priests, but also musicians and sculptors, in India for a one-day induction course.

The problem became acute after the government in late 2007 decided to freeze recruitment of new priests from India.

Vasudevan said local priests were not well versed with Sanskrit, which is a must for prayers and rituals.

“Local priests are not well versed in Sanskrit… most prayers and mantras must be recited in Sanskrit. This is one disadvantage. Another is the small number of priests serving thousands of devotees. For example this temple has some 5,000 devotees but is only serviced by one priest. This is absurd,” he added.

He said the government should not only concentrate on repairing and rebuilding temples but also pay heed to the temple’s needs and requirements of devotees,” he said.


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