Wednesday 24 October 2012

Temples to the Mahatma

India is a land of temples and there is a saying that there are as many temples as there are people in this country.
Every State has thousands of temples and they have been built right from the time  of the Vedic age.  Temples are even being built now and some of the modern day temples rival their ancient cousins in grandeur, beauty and design.
It can thus safely be said that there are temples dedicated to almost all gods and goddesses that we know. However, did you know that India is also home to temples dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation.
Ironically, Gandhi was against segregation of  people from temples and he led  people from other castes into temples. He also started a newspaper called Harijan. All his life he fought for human and humane values. He stood for truth, ahimsa and uprightness.
Unfortunately, all the values that the Mahatma stood for seems to have been forgotten. India today is choking under the vice-like grip of  corruption and nepotism. The less said about our preset day leaders the better.
Today, we see leaders of all hues and castes making a beeline to temples, praying to the deities and making grand promises. How would it be if they circambulated the two temples of Mahatma Gandhi in Indi and made a promise to be honest and live according to the tenets  of the  Mahatma.
Interestingly, while one  of the temple dedicated to Gandhi is in south India, another is in East India.
Mangalore has the distinction of having a temple dedicated to Gandhi near it. The temple was built an year after the Mahatma was assassinated in 1947.  .
The temple, built in 1948, is in Kankanady. Here there is an idol of Gandhi and it is worshipped thrice a day. The temples was built by Narasappa Saliyan and Somappa Saliyan,
The second Gandhi Temple that I know of is at Bhatra village near Sambalpur in Orissa.
 Here too there is an idol of Gandhi and it is worshipped here. A tricolour is atop the statue. The temple priest is a Dalit and Gandhi’s  writings are read out afterAarti twice a day.
The temple was constructed in 1973. The republic Day, Independence Day, Gandhi Jayanti and  Martyr’s Day are celebrated here.      
Would you believe it that though Bhatra village is classified as Ward No 1 of Sambalpur municipality, it is also regarded as the most backward.
A pointer to the way things are  going in India can be gauged from the Hindi film, Munnabhai MBBS. During the course of the film, its hero Sanjay Dutt says, “Throw out all statues of Gandhiji. He would be happy if  people keep Gandhi in their hearts and follow him and his ideals.”

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