Source: Star TV, December 10, 2000
KANPUR, INDIA: Mrs. Asha Rani Rai of Vidya Mandir Women's College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, has started training girls as purohits, Hindu priests, based on the curriculum of University Grant Commission [UGC]'s Sanskrit course. Everyday for seven hours these would-be female pundits learn about Vedic rituals. In an interview to Star, Asha Rani Rai said that she herself is an expert in Vedic rituals and has performed over two dozen marriages and several cremation rites as per scriptures. As in the case with other training programs for women as priests, the cause is dissatisfaction with the existing men, who many people feel display little devotion or knowledge. The female pundits are also being taught astrology and vaastu shastra. They will be taught all the sixteen sanskaras of Hinduism ranging from and related to, birth and death. Asha says that it is incorrect to state that Vedas cannot be studied by women and this has no sanction from scriptures. Rather Asha feels that women are purer and can do the job of a pundit in a better manner. The development of women priests in Hinduism, where men traditionally fulfill this roll is often regarded as a challenge to orthodoxy. However, the women say they would not want to do the priest's job if the men themselves were handling the responsibility correctly.