Hindus who have settled outside Bhaarat are acutely conscious of the growing need for properly trained priests who can perform poojaa [worship]. In Western countries, we need priests who are knowledgeable in spiritual as well as the practical aspects of Hindu dharma and who are able to speak in English. They need to be fluent in English so that they can communicate with Hindu children who have been brought up in the Western countries.
In response to this demand, Hindu Heritage Pratishthan, an organisation based in Bhaarat, has initiated the project of training Pujaarees [priests]. The candidates have to be Brahmins, well versed in Sanskrit and possess a working knowledge of English. They undergo a training programme for 9 months leading to a diploma. The training involves exhaustive study of the scriptures, including the Vedas, the Upanishads, Bhagvad Geeta and Ramayana. They are taught how to perform various rituals, and to correctly chant the shlokas – hymns and mantras.
The trainees are imparted a basic knowledge of other religions so that they can take part in debates with people of other faiths, to give a Hindu point of view on various issues and, if necessary, to speak in defence of Hinduism. It is expected that, particularly outside Bhaarat, such priests will contribute to correct understanding of Hindu dharma.
Thirty-three priests have already completed their training, and they have been sent to USA, Singapore and Mauritius. Others will be made available for appointment to temples elsewhere including the UK. Hindu Temples and Associations wishing to benefit from this scheme should contact the VHP-UK.