Two images of Hindu priests have gone viral. The image on the left shows a priest drinking alcohol while the second shows a priest standing on an idol of a Hindu deity.

Twitter user @P_Katyayan claimed, “According to sources the person seen drinking alcohol in the photo is Thomas Rajan, a Christian who has been appointed as a priest in a temple by the Tamil Nadu government.”

Twitter users @4mSingh, @moharajo, @churchanity_, and @mariawirth1 made similar claims.

Journalist Nandagopal KM shared the image of a priest standing on an idol however, he did not claim he is Christian.

Other users have made a similar claim by sharing a video of the priest in the image on the left. (1, 2, 3, 4)

Facebook page “Major General Gagan Deep Bakshi Fans” also shared the two images, gaining over 2,000 shares.


Image 1: Priest on top of an idol

Alt News performed a reverse image search and found that the image dates back to at least 2020. We were unable to find more details of the image.

Image 2 and video: Priest drinking beer

Alt News performed a keyword search on YouTube and found the viral video. Readers should note that the left image in @moharajo’s tweet is from this video, taken at the 38-second mark. This video was uploaded in 2017. Thus, the two images are not related.

At the 1:10 second mark, the priest reveals his name as Shankar.

It is noteworthy that in August, Chief Minister MK Stalin had handed over orders to 208 persons, including 24 trained archakas of all castes, for appointment at temples managed by the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE). Hindu temples fall under the HR&CE Department in Tamil Nadu. Alt News spoke with former senior management at HR&CE who said, “Not just archakas (pujari) at temples but staff and officers of the HR&CE department which is expected to discharge only secular functions like service matters and asset management are from the Hindu community.” Therefore, the claim the priests shown in the viral images/video is Thomas Rajan is a work of fiction.

In the past, Alt News has debunked multiple falsehoods targeting temple management in Tamil Nadu.

About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.