Temple Priests


Priesthood is divided into two classes.

They are (i) Thanthri (Main Priest), and (ii) Santhikkar. Apart from the priests, there is Kazhakakkar who are closely connected with the affairs of the temple.


A Thantri should be a person belonging to a respectable Brahmin family and who follows and observes all the Shodashacharangal (sixteen rituals and sixteen modes of worship) and well versed with Vedas and other sacred texts. The Thantri has a vital role in the temple. Thantri has to conduct all rituals like consecration rites, expiatory rites etc. to ensure continuance chaithanya (strength and energy) of the deity. He should possess the knowledge of tantric rites. He should also be well versed with six Sasthras (Sikha, Kalpam, Nirutham, Vyakaranam, Jyothisham and Chandus) with proper understanding of its importance. Normally there is one Thantri in a temple.





Santhikkar are divided into two viz., Mel Santhi (Chief Priest) and Keezh Santhi (Assistant Priest). 

Mel Santhi is responsible for the conduct of daily poojas according to the concept of the deity and according to the custom of the temple at the prescribed timings. He has to help the Thantri in conducting special rites. He should have thorough knowledge in various systems of pooja. He should ensure sanctity of the temple and keep all valuables of the temple under safe custody. 

Keezh Santhi is responsible to prepare Nivedya, distribution of Prasada to devotees, assisting Mel Santhiand Thantri whenever required, ensuring cleanliness and sanctity of temple, ensuring punctuality in following the rituals of the temple. He has to discharge the duties and responsibilities of Mel Santhi, if qualified and acceptable to Mel Santhi.

Generally Kazhakkar are known as Ambalavasi or Antharalar. Adikal, Nambiar, NambeesanPuspakan, Thiyyat-unni, Varier, Pisharadi, Poduval are grouped as Ambalavasis.  Kazhakakkar are responsible for making garlands, fetching firewood, playing musical and percussion instruments. In some temples, they assist the Santhikkar.
The Priesthood class should observe the following five prime principles for keeping up the serenity and sanctity of the temple. They arethapas (religious austerities), amnaya japa (learning and chanting of thanthra/manthra), niyamena (punctuality, ulsava (festival), and anna dana (giving food to others).

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