In a landmark step, 36 non-Brahmins - six of them Dalits - have been appointed as priests in Kerala. The appointments were made by the Kerala's Travancore Devasom Recruitment Board, which is controlled by the state government - currently headed by CPM's Prinarayi Vijayan.
Today, Yadhu Krishna, a Dalit, scripted history became the first to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the centuries-old Thiruvalla Manappuram Siva temple.
"I never expected this. There were over 900 applicants, 400 were selected... Of them, we were 36," he said, adding, "Kerala should become the example that north India and others follow". The 22-year-old comes from a humble family. Yadhu Krishna's parents are daily wagers and he had studied tantrik rituals and philosophy for a decade.
While the appointment of Dalit priests had been on the Left's to-do list for some time, this was the first time the government took the reservation route to appoint priests. The Travancore Devasom Recruitment Board controls more than 1,200 temples in the state, including the hugely venerated Lord Ayappa temple in Sabarimala.
The CPM-led Kerala government has called this a "silent revolution".
"Kerala has a very different environment due to its literacy and history," Devasom Minister Kadakampally Surendran told NDTV. The constitution, he said, has a "vision" for the backward communities, Dalits. "Our constitution offers them reservation in all fields, to ensure they get equal opportunity. Why should they not get that opportunity?" he added.
"Before this also, there was a priest from a vishwakarma caste. And now this priest has come. This is a testimony that anyone who has studied tantric studies, can perform the Pooja," said Rahul MR, a resident.