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The Woman Priest at Lord Hanuman Temple (standard:non fiction, 896 words)
Author: JuggernautAdded: Dec 22 2013Views/Reads: 2164/783Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
At any place of worship either Christian, Hindu or Muslim, not often one finds a woman priest. At Lord Hanuman Hindu temple in Pineappleville, a town on southeastern coast of India, a woman priest conducted the worship at decades ago with little success.
 



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as live-in cook. She was fair skinned and diminutive in stature and 

stood apart from the locals.  On her retirement, her employers gave her 

a small strip of rocky land on the main road with a large boulder on 

which somebody engraved a figure of Lord Hanuman. The engraved figure 

was deep and very descriptive. Purnima built a small masonry structure 

around the rock to turn into a shrine and made living as a priest. 

Purnima lived within the temple compound using the backyard for 

cooking and living in a thatched hut under the shade of a large tree. 

The rocky backyard supported Plumeria trees also called Temple trees as 

most temples plant Plumeria trees on its premises for abundant supply 

of flowers of white, yellow and red shades with sweet fragrance good 

for making floral garments used as a offering to the temple deities. 

The Hanuman temple was a private shrine not recognized by the 

government and Purnima was not qualified for government salary like 

priests at the other temples. The only income for Purnima was from the 

donations left in the collection plate which was meager considering the 

most of the devotees were working class poor like day laborers and 

rickshaw pullers that worship Lord Hanuman for strength in performing 

physically demanding jobs. 

Devotees generally prefer a male priest over a female priest at 

any place of worship in any faith. At Hindu temples across the land, 

one can hardly find a female priest let alone at the temple of Lord 

Hanuman known for lifelong celibacy. 

Purnima spent time in the temple in making floral garlands with 

colorful Plumeria flowers collected from the trees in the backyard and 

coating the engraved rock with freshly made oily crimson red dye.  The 

devotees help themselves to get a pinch of red dye to rub on their 

forehead before leaving the shrine leaving few coins in the collection 

plate, the only source of income for Purnima.  Some devotees purchased 

floral garlands for a small price to adorn the rock. 

Decades later, Juggernaut on a recent visit to Pineappleville 

found the Hanuman shrine abandoned with no priest and the engraved 

figure of Lord Hanuman on the rock was still intact and visible in 

faded red paint. He touched the oily red dye with his finger that stuck 

readily like glue to the past to remind the woman priest at Hanuman 

Temple. 

In years past, majority of doctors, engineers, lawyers and 

judges were all men; very few women far in between occupied these 

positions. Women were employed only at grade schools in numbers, beyond 

the middle school; men dominated the teaching and administration 

positions. But today, over 50% of the professions were rightfully 

occupied by women except the profession of priesthood in any faith. Old 

Purnima received scant recognition as a priest at Lord Hanuman shrine 

from the years past,  similar sentiment still prevails even now at 

places of worship. 


   


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