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.”
सूत्रों के मुताबिक फ़ोटो में दारू पीता दिख रहा व्यक्ति थोमस राजन,एक ईसाई है।
जिसको तमिलनाडु की सरकार ने एक मन्दिर में पुजारी नियुक्त किया है
क्या हमारे मन्दिरों पर कब्ज़ा करने के लिए अब सरकारें यह कदम उठाएगी?
क्या हिन्दू मन्दिरों में ऐसी दखल अंदाज़ी ठीक है?#हिंदुत्व_हमारी_पहचान pic.twitter.com/A0mUiOodbl
— 🇮🇳कल्याणी_पुष्पा🇮🇳 (@P_Katyayan) November 17, 2021
Journalist Nandagopal KM shared the image of a priest standing on an idol however, he did not claim he is Christian.
Newly appointed Archakar discriminate Lords, laid his legs on Goddess Shoulder and Tie, garland Lord Vishnu Murthy. Karma goes to his employers, ie TN CM and ministers. Withdraw unorthodox archakars and ensure Agama Sastra. pic.twitter.com/OGs9qEbqIu
— Nandagopal.K.M. (@nandaji1958) August 20, 2021
इस वीडियो में मदिरापान करता हुआ व्यक्ति #थोमस_राजन, एक ईसाई है। जिसको तमिलनाडु की सरकार ने एक #मन्दिर_में_पुजारी नियुक्त किया है। इसकी वेशभूषा को देखते हुए लोग ब्राह्मण समझकर ब्राह्मणों से नफरत करेंगे। इसी तरह राजनीतिक षड्यंत्रों के द्वारा ब्राह्मणों के लिए नफ़रत फैलाई जाती है। pic.twitter.com/WYLii1CEiH
— दीवानी भोले की (ब्राह्मणी) (@shivkidiwani_) November 18, 2021
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.