The Role and Function of the Leaders in the Mandir

The Role and Function of the Leaders in the Mandir

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The Role and Function of the Leaders in the Mandir

(ii) Most mandirs are lead by the highest caste, Brahmins who are seen
as a leader or teacher who sets an example for the community. They are
well educated therefore they are highly respected. However, the
leaders could also be Gurus, a spiritual teacher or Swami, a saint. In
small village temples, they normally have part-time non-Brahmin
leaders but in larger temples, they normally have fulltime Brahmins.

A mandir is a house for deity/ deities so the priest's role is to care
for them. At dawn, the priest will wake up the deity and carry the
image to the shrine room, where it is washed, dried and dressed. At
night, the image will be brought back to the bedroom. Everyday, the
priest will sound a conch shell to mark the start of the day. There
are five daily obligations that he must follow:

Firstly, he must worship Brahman everyday. This could be done directly
or through other Gods. Secondly, he will have to give reverence to
saints and holy men by reading the Vedas, usually consisting of the
Gayatri Mantra, which is one of the most popular of Hindu prayers from
the Upanishads and is chanted at all ceremonies. Thirdly, he will have
to respect his parents and elderly. Fourthly, he will have to give
shelter and alms to the poor or holy men and lastly he will have to
feed and care for animals, as Hindus believe that Brahman is
omnipresent so all living things form one community.

In the daily worship, the priest performs puja for the deity. The
congregation sing and clap while he performs the arti ceremony, which
is offering love and devotion to God. He also performs Haven, the
offering of fire. He pours ghee while he recites the Vedas, then dips
his finger in water and touches his ears, nose, mouth, eyes, arms,
body and legs, while the congregation copies.

The priest teaches the Vedas, sacrifices for people and helps and
assists people by giving guidance and advice to people on moral and

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cultural issues and counsel the community. Because Brahmins are well
educated, they will be able to answer people's questions about their
faith and how they can put this faith into action. Despite this, the
priest also has to be a financial manager of the temple to run
maintains of it.

Priests have to take part in religious ceremonies, festivals and are
invited to conduct rites of passages (Samskaras) such as the Naming
Ceremony (Namakarana). After a baby is born, the priest will conduct
rituals and cast a horoscope to determine the first letter of the
baby's name.

In the Sacred Thread Ceremony (Upanayana), which is a ceremony to mark
the transition to adulthood of a boy, the priest chooses the date that
is best for it. He conducts homa, a special sacred fire ritual and
presents him to his household gods.

In the Marriage Rites (Vivaha), the priest looks up the partners'
horoscope to find the date that is best for the wedding. He recites
verses from the Vedas and blesses the couple for a long and prosperous
marriage.
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