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Malaysian academy to train Hindu priests


Ipoh (Malaysia) : Malaysia’s first academy to train Hindu priests will conduct a five-year course developed in consultation with similar institutions in India, a minister said.

Human Resource Minister S. Subramaniam, who opened the academy Sunday, said the country’s Tamil Hindu community will continue to get priests from India since the training, grading and certifying of priests will take time.

The Hindu community’s wish to have a training facility for local priests has been fulfilled with the setting up of the academy in Jelapang Tambahan near here, the New Straits Times said Monday.

With the opening of the academy, the availability of qualified priests will be assured for over 3,000 Hindu temples in the country.

Subramaniam, who is also Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) secretary general, said the training centre would reduce the community’s reliance on priests from India.

“With the academy, the community is also assured of qualified and accredited priests to perform various Hindu ceremonies.

“This is a new beginning that will be filled with many challenges. But I am sure the association, with the support of the government, will overcome the problems and ensure that this role can be played effectively in Malaysia itself.”

Subramaniam said although there were locals who were trained as priests, the training was not done formally by recognised institutions and was not accredited at the national level.

He said a major problem facing the community was the qualifications of local priests conducting important and complicated ceremonies in the temples.

“Prior to the setting up of this academy, a few individuals were providing training and bestowing titles (on the trainee priests). There was no standardisation. Every person, according to his desire, adjoined various titles to their names.

“The Hindus were confused. Now, we are regularising every aspect of the priest training and priesthood.”

The minister later presented certificates to 100 priests, some of whom had completed their two-year training stint in India.

Hindus form a bulk of Malaysia’s nearly two million ethnic Indian community that is about seven percent of the multi-racial 28 million population.