KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA, February 7, 2013 (Free Malaysia Today): Hindu temples nationwide are facing a shortage of priests. This is because the Immigration Department is only granting visas for only one or two priests from India to work at a temple.
The Petaling Estate Sree Maha Mariamman Temple board of trustees chairman A. Vasudevan Nair said it was difficult for one or two priests to serve about 5,000 to 10,000 devotees who throng temples, especially during Hindu festivals. "While they allow barbers and restaurant workers from India to work here without any major restrictions, the same cannot be said for priests.
The issue of shortage of Hindu priests was brought up just after the 2008 general election. The government had entrusted Human Resources Minister and MIC vice-president S. Subramaniam to look into the matter. The government then came-up with a plan to send local Hindus to be trained, not only as priests, but also musicians and sculptors, in India for a one-day induction course.
"Local priests are not well versed in Sanskrit... most prayers and mantras must be recited in Sanskrit. This is one disadvantage. Another is the small number of priests serving thousands of devotees. For example this temple has some 5,000 devotees but is only serviced by one priest. This is absurd," Vasudevan said.
He said the government should not only concentrate on repairing and rebuilding temples but also pay heed to the temple's needs and requirements of devotees," he said.