Bhimavaram : , Feb 28 (IANS) Akin to school, college and university cricket tournaments, some enthusiasts of the sport are soon organising an exclusive state level tournament for 'purohitulu' (Brahmin priests) at Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh's West Godavari district.
"This is a state-level 'purohitula' tournament for interested priests across the state. As many as 25 teams are expected from AP and 2-3 more from Hyderabad," Chanduri Kameshwar Rao, one of the organisers and a priest at Vinayak temple at a local engineering college in the town told IANS.
Scheduled in late March, one has to be a priest to participate in the tournament and the participants will be scrutinised to confirm whether they are really one or not.
"Before every match, there will be a test to examine if an enthusiast is really a priest or not. An examiner from the organising committee will demand the players to recite him a mantra or a pravara. As we are priests, we can identify one. On passing the test, they can participate in the match," noted Rao.
He observed that within the Brahmin community, there are so many good sportspersons who get ample opportunity to showcase their talent but there is no one such platform for the priests, which this tourney will fill that vacuum, along with the desire to see all the purohits playing.
According to Rao, every year tournaments for Brahmins are being conducted but they are not exclusive tournaments for priests.
"Priests who officiate rituals in temples, do upanayanam, officiate weddings and students of Vedic schools are eligible to participate in the tournament," he said.
Rao, Brahmajyosula Satyaprasad, Brahmajyosula Subrahmanyam and a few others have joined together to conduct the tournament under the auspices of the local Bhramana Seva Sangam.
This tournament is the third iteration of the format as Rao and party earlier conducted eight years ago for the first time and again two years ago for the second in the same town.
Other times, Rao's team toured towns such as Rajamahendravaram and Kakinada and other places to participate in Brahmin cricket tournaments.
Encouraging the priests, devotees who call them for ceremonies, weddings, functions and other programmes have chipped in to sponsor the prize money, which may rise up to Rs 75,000 this year.
Not just prize money, the organisers are also arranging free accommodation at Gunupudi Pancharamakshetram in the town as well as food for all the participants during the tourney.
For the 2021 edition, the organisers are planning to rope in somebody big for the prize distribution ceremony.
According to Rao, most of his peers have got used to playing cricket, as the game being one of the two options for them to indulge in downtime whenever they go on a tour to officiate ceremonies.
"When we conducted badminton tournament, it got over in just one day but in a sport like cricket nearly 11 people can participate through a team and we are seeing a gathering of people unlike some other sports," said Rao, explaining the rationale for choosing an non-native English sport like Cricket than a native sport such as kabaddi or kho kho at a time when the sentiment of nationalism is going strong across the country.
Another Purohita - Brahmin tournament, open for all Brahmins is set to host its final on Sunday in Rajamahendravaram while one more such tournament has already been conducted in Kakinada, including one more planned at Kovvuru.
On Monday, Janasena leader and the last Speaker of united AP Assembly, Nadendla Manohar, visited the Brahmana - Purohit tournament at Rajamahendravaram and appreciated the participants.
Not just a Brahmin cricket league, there was also a Christian cricket league at the Lutheran school ground in the town some years ago.
"We organized a Christian cricket league back in 2016 to unearth talent in the community as there was no platform for them. We conducted that tournament to encourage their skills," said Rapaka Sundar, organiser of the tourney.
Sundar also aimed to show them a better opportunity as he learnt at that time that many of those participants were not in good spirits back then, without any commercial motive.
"Though I started the tourney as a Christian league, gradually it opened to everybody and people from all communities participated," he observed.
However, he could not conduct the tournament regularly.
Sundar said he got busy with his own work as he was developing an app to the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) on Navaratnalu which consumed his time.
The cricket aficionado, who runs a software company, is now planning to organise a grand YSRCP cricket tournament soon.