Hyderabad: In the Indian society, where males perform duties of a priest, in Kurmaguda in the Old City of Hyderabad, a woman begs to differ. In a quite unconventional move, she stepped into the shoes of her priest father upon the latter’s death. She worked as a priest to support the family and married off her two younger sisters and made her younger brother acquire the knowledge of the Vedas.
Goverdhan Sridevi of Chegurti village in Karimnagar district came to the rescue of her family at a time when some callous men desert their families and drive parents onto the streets to fend for themselves.
She dispelled the myth that priesthood is the domain of males. She resumed the work of a priest when her father was bedridden with disease. Over a period of time, her father died. The woman, with her commitment to the job, won the hearts of one and all in the Old City.
Sridevi has been working as a priest in three temples at Kurmaguda in the Old City. She is supporting the family, working as the priest for the past 10 years. She performed marriages of her two sisters and educated her brother and also taught him the Vedas.
Speaking to The Hans India, she noted, “Working as a priest is a boon to me. Initially, some have discouraged me on the grounds that it is not feasible for a female. I started learning the Vedas since the age of five. I accompanied my grandfather and learnt the Vedas from a Vedic school. I was the only girl to have learnt the Vedas.”
She is fluent in rendering the Vedic lessons, Ganesh Stotram and Ashtottarams of various deities. She renders various Stotras while performing pujas to Goddesses fluently with full authority, competing with her male counterparts.
Former corporator Sahadev Yadav said ever since the temple was built nine years ago, she was performing the duties of a priest to the appreciations of one and all. According to the temple trust chairman Balappa, besides performing the pujas at the temple, she has been conducting ceremonies housewarming ceremony, homas and interpreting horoscopes.
She first worked as a priest at Yagna Varahaswamy Temple in Karimnagar, Venkateswara Temple at Konaipalli in Medak district and earned the appreciation of the then Siddipet MLA and present Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
Noted seer Chinna Jeeyar Swamy felicitated her for choosing priesthood as job. Since she was above the menstrual cycle, she said she was able to perform all rituals in the sanctum-sanctorum of the temple.
Her mother Anasuyadevi is very much proud of her daughter Sridevi since the latter had discharged her responsibilities towards the family the eldest son. She said she was really proud of her daughter.
Sridevi said she rejected the offer of priesthood by the Tirumala Tirupathi Devastanams (TTD) for the sake of her family. She wants to continue in the profession till she breathes her last. Her objective is to set up a Vedic school to teach the holy scriptures to women. Her sisters also lend her support assisting her in her rituals as and when the situation demands.
She does not discriminate against teaching the Vedas to males also. The women of Kurmaguda feel very proud of her and they seek her advice as and when required. Sridevi sets an example for other women to emulate her and serve as a source of great inspiration for them.