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The Job

According to the Hindu American Foundation, Hinduism is “not divided by denomination, but by other categories, including deity traditions, sampradaya, parampara, and darsana. Most Hindus belong to one of four major deity traditions—Shaiva, Shakta, Vaishnava, and Smarta.” For more information on Hindu deity traditions, major schools of thought, and holy scriptures visit http://www.hafsite.org.

Job responsibilities for purohits vary by deity traditions, size of the congregation, and other criteria, but typical duties include:

  • conducting daily prayers (pujas), rituals, festivals, and special deity ceremonies in the temple and Hindu family residences; in some traditions, purohitas are only allowed to perform these duties in people’s homes (those who do so are known as family priests), while others perform these duties in both homes and temples
  • performing samskaras (rites of passage in a human being’s life described in ancient Sanskrit texts) such as Jathakarma (birth of a child), Namakaranam (new child naming ceremony), Vivaham (wedding), Upaakarma (thread-changing ceremony for student-scholars), Nishchayathartham (wedding engagement), Varalakshmi Vratham (prosperity and happiness for one’s family), Antima Sanskar (funeral), and various homam/havan (purification) rituals (In some traditions, purohitas are not involved in funeral ceremonies.)
  • leading Stotra recitation (a melodically sung hymn)
  • playing musical instruments such as the harmonium and tabla
  • developing and executing spiritual and religious programs for seniors, children, and other diverse audiences
  • ensuring that the temple is maintained with sacredness and cleanliness
  • preparing special food offerings (prasadam) for Hindu worship services
  • helping to raise money for the temple through various fundraising activities