Muzaffarpur: Women have carved a niche for themselves in every sphere of life, but to find a woman in the role of a priest is unusual. But 70-year-old Dharmsheela Devi Aarya of Muzaffarpur in Bihar is an exception. Aarya has been a priest for the last five decades performing Vedic rituals.

A follower of Arya Samaj, Dharmsheela Devi, who is well known for conducting Havan and Yagya also conducts marriages. Her client list is not restricted to her home district rather she gets invitations from other districts as well.

Aarya has conducted close to thousand marriages in her lifetime.

Always busy with her religious tasks, Aarya is an ardent supporter of more women taking over priesthood. She has already trained 25 girls for conducting religious rituals in Arya Kumar Vidya Mandir here.

Devi Aarya says “Puranas did not allow women to recite Mantras, but Maharishi Dayanand opened the ways of Vedas for them.”
Devi Aarya’s early life provided her environment that inclined her towards Vedic education. Both, her father late Jeetendra Shashtri and mother late Sandhya Devi Aarya were preachers in Muzaffarpur Arya Samaj. She inherited Vedic education from her father.

She continued with her profession even after marriage as she did not face restrictions from her husband Vimalkant Jha, who passed away in 1996.

Devi Aarya has earned reverence of many. An Arya Samaj priest Kamal Shashtri said she is a very good preacher.
According to another priest Bajrangi Aarya, Dharmsheela Devi, in true sense, has fulfilled the ideals and principles of Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati who fought for women’s right.

(JPN/Bureau)