Non-Brahmin staff face discrimination

Vijayawada, March 31: Sri Kanaka Durga temple authorities’ decision to allow only Brahmins in ‘prasadam’ section here stirred up a controversy today.

Several non-Brahmin workers, who have been preparing prasadam for the past several years, staged a protest at the temple in protest against the decision.

The temple which invites tenders every year for making pulihora, laddus, chakkerapongali and other prasadams, issued the tender a month ago specifying that only Brahmin community people would be allowed to work in prasadam making and packing section.

Majority of the workers in prasadam section, who prepare and pack laddus, are non-Brahmins and they have been doing so for the past 20 years.

However, in the recent tender notification for 2010- 11, the temple authorities asked the contractor that all the provisions of the tender notice including deputing Brahmin workers in prasadam section should be followed strictly.

The new tender guidelines which will come into effect from April 1 created a controversy as over 65 persons working in prasadam section are non-Brahmin.

“The temple authorities are giving priority to Brahmin workers at the cost of our lives,’’ lamented Pochapalli Ratnam saying that it can’t be justified. “There was no single complaint against me in maintaining cleanliness in the last 20 years,’’ he told Express.

“One looks at the quality and whether the prasadam is being prepared in hygienic conditions or not. The temple authorities can take action against erring workers but throwing out the existing workers in the name of caste is not acceptable,’’ opined Tirumalla Jayalaxmi, another worker. However, the temple Executive Officer N Vijay Kumar said that he did not include any new provision in the tender notice and was merely implementing the guidelines of Endowment department.

He maintained that the provision that only Brahmins should be allowed to work in prasadam making and packing section had been violated for the last several years on Indrakeeladri.

‘To protect the temple’s sanity and maintain hygienic conditions in prasadam packing, I have strictly advised the contractor to depute only Brahmin community workers even in prasadam packing,’ the Executive Officer said. Protesting against the temple’s decision, scores of workers under the aegis of Prasadam- Making Contract Workers Union staged a protest at the temple and demanded withdrawal of the decision immediately.