The Bihar Post

Hindu priests to undergo test of religious knowledge

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PATNA: Authorities in Bihar have planned to test the religious knowledge of priests before allowing them to perform religious rituals at the Shiva temple at this holy Hindu month of Sharavana.

Officials say they will allow for conducting rituals to only those Pandas or the priests who have the knowledge of Gayantri mantra and Rudrashtakam which narrates the qualities and deed of Hindu deity Lord Shiva.

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The idea, official believes, will check the increasing number of “fake” priests and also save the pilgrims from being fleeced.

“We have complaints that many people working as Pandas are intimidating the pilgrims. This could be because majority of them lack the basic knowledge of rituals,” a senior state official Kumar Anuj told the media today.

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Anuj is currently posted as the sub-divisional officer at Bhagalpur, an eastern Bihar district where a large number of Hindu pilgrims throng at this time to offer prayers at Shiva temple of Ajgaibinath, Sultanganj situated atop a hill in the mid stream of Ganga and collect holy water before embarking on kanwaryatra to Baidyanathdham at Deoghar in neighbouring Jharkhand state.

“In a random test conducted on Thursday, only three Pandas out of 10 could recite Gayatri Mantra and Rudrashtakam,” the official was quoted as saying in Hindustan Times today.

He said the administration was also planning to make it mandatory for every Pandas to get registered with the government by submitting necessary documents before allowing them to perform rituals.

“This will not only check the entry of ‘fake’ pandas to a significant extent but will also minimize the possibility of fraud and criminal activities during this ongoing Shrwani Mela,” the official added.

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