THE experiment of imparting purohit (priest) training to women by women wing of the VHP in Vidarbha proved to be a big hit. The VHP had started this project in 2000 so that women can also perform religious rituals. The women responded well to the project. In order to unite them at one platform, a Women Purohit Sammelan was organised in Nagpur by the VHP. It was presided over by Smt Jaishree Jichkar, wife of noted Congress leader of Nagpur Shrikant Jichkar. A directory of women priests was also released at the Sammelan by the then Gouraksha Vibhag Pramukh of the VHP Shri Hukumachand Sanwala. Shri Ashok Singhal also blessed the Sammelan.
This Sammelan has shaken the dominance of the male priests. Some people came out openly in its protest. A senior purohit of Nagpur who had accepted the invitation to attend the Sammelan, refused to attend it a day before. Expressing his inability he said he would have to face the ire of other priests if he attended the Sammelan. But another senior priest of Nagpur, Shrikrishna Shastri Bapat attended the Sammelan with courage and also blessed the participants. This Sammelan proved to be a milestone in the journey of women priests.
The basic concept behind the project was appreciated by all. Today, many of the routine rituals like birthdays, fasts, Griha Praveshas, foundation stone ceremonies, Maharudras, Laghuru-dras, Surya Suktas, Purush Suktas, Stri Suktas, etc are conducted by these women priests successfully.
The women priests performed Jalabhisheka ceremonies in all the districts of Vidarbha in the year 2002-03. They regularly conduct home coming ceremonies and bless the gathering. Once, 101 women priests performed Atirudra Yajna for the safety of the countrymen. This entire ceremony was conducted without taking any dakshina. Besides it 1001 women priests conducted Jalabhisheka ceremony at Jalaram temple of Vradhaman Nagar in the presence of the then RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan. Similarly, Laghurudra and Maharudra yajnas were conducted at Aamgaon and Godia of Vidarbha. Women priests also conducted a mass wedding ceremony at Nagpur VHP office. Women priests’ training camps were also organised in Akola and Nagpur.
(The writer is Vidarbha Prant Mahila Pramukh of the VHP)