At a time when fewer job openings are on offer for youths due to recession, young priests from Uttarakhand are heading for greener pastures abroad. Global meltdown has sure taken a toll on jobs worldwide, but there was no dearth of job offers for priests from the state.
Priests from the hill state of Uttarakhand are getting offers from temples run by non-resident Indians (NRIs) across United Kingdom, United States, Australia and Sweden.
A Hindu Temple Society in America has even tied up with the Haridwar-based Dev Sanskriti University to absorb its students in its 100 temples situated in different parts of USA.
Confirming this, Durgesh Dwivedi, head of the Theology department, Dev Sanskrit University, said the three students have already applied for a visa and will go to US once their visas come through.
Dwivedi said that of late, a six-month diploma course run by his department, that teaches Sanskrit, Hindu mythology and religious rituals had become very popular with students.
Demand for priests from Uttarakhand was triggered by the faith of non-resident Indians (NRIs) who have been approaching the different ancient temples to source people to run their temples abroad.
Chief priest of Yamunotri shrine, Pankaj Uniyal was approached by a group of NRIs from Sweden. “Since I am engaged with a prominent Hindu shrine in the Himalayas, I declined the offer, Uniyal told Hindustan Times.
Serving the deity is a family tradition and those engaged in priestly duties at the hundreds of temples scattered across the state, including the well-known temples at Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri.
Astrologer and preacher Shiv Prakash Mamgain will be traveling to London to serve in a temple there for sometime. “I have been asked by a Maharastrian family to serve in a temple in London,” he said. Mastery over scriptures and rituals was the reason why priests from Uttarakhand were sought after, he felt.
Ramesh Mishra, an undergraduate student at a local college in Dehradun has no interest in priestly affairs. But his father, Kirtiram Mishra engaged in priesthood in Norway has asked him to get ready. “My maternal uncle is also in Sweden, lets see what is in my fate,” Ramesh said.
Global job offers for priests has kindled an interest in Sanskrit and vedic studies in the area. Sanskrit schools located in the holy towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh have witnessed spurt in the enrollment of students.
“Sanskrit had hardly been preferred, but now is being considered a viable option for jobs,” said Vinay Saraswat whose society provides Sanskrit education to a small group of students in Rishikesh. He says he is receiving 15 to 20 per cent more queries from parents.