Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Final hour Call

Philanthropy is a broad word which is interpreted to the likes of people of different interests. In general, it is the practice of performing Charitable acts.These acts originate from the kind hearted persons who believe in either service to God or service to Mankind or both. Our tradition has encouraged both alike as both are inseperable. At the end of the day, all religious festivals end up with helping poor sections of the public. Pure Social service appear to do nothing related to God. At the same time, care should be taken when we dedicate ourselves in the service of God so that the end result reaches down the line. The downtrodden should never be forgotten when a philanthropic act is done in the name of God. We also come across persons of high reputation extending their offerings to places that are immensely rich.Probably the very idea of giving a huge contribution to such places is to gain wide publicity. They know very well that there are humpteen number of places crying for help.Regardless of occupying high positions , these dignitaries continue to donate huge money , gold etc to places where irregularities happen due to excess flow of funds.

Prioritization is therefore important when we chart out plans for a philanthropic act. For example, a temple renovation activity should go hand in hand with the welfare of the priests and other temple servants. Worship and Poojas are peformed at the temples for the welfare of mankind.It was with this belief the Emperors had donated agricultural lands to the temples.
If the Government protects the interests of these Endowments, the temple maintenance will be taken care of by the income from lands. Those who illegally occupy the temple lands and refuse to give back the farm yields escape punishment as they constitute a large vote bank which no political party wants to ignore and take a path of confrontation. Similarly the HR&CE looks for income through Hundi.

Look at these temples which were built by Emperors with the hope that the future generations would take care to preserve and maintain them properly. Once the income for the temples is robbed , maintaining them becomes the responsibility of HR&CE department. Unless the locals show some interest, the HR&CE shows scant respect for these neglected shrines. On seeing the total neglect of these places through the media, few people respond to the wakeup call. The ideal solution could be when people are directed to visit the temples in the nearby villages and extend all possible help. This could be an inspiration for the locals to fall in line with others. People in Towns can arrange to visit these temples once in a month in good numbers and offer prayers.This will slowly activate group activities like removal of weeds, cleaning the premises, attending minor repairs etc. It will also give some income to the priest who is reeling under poverty. A Village Temples Protection Committee is to be formed in all Towns and cater the basic needs of surrounding villages to the maximum area of say, 5 Sq.KM.

Can you imagine the plight of the person in the adjacent photograph ? He is none other than the Sivacharya of a huge temple built by Chola Emperors. He is engaged in preparing "Neivedyam" to the deity. There is no Kitchen (Madappalli) inside the shrine as the outer prakaram is in shambles. So he cooks right in front of the Main Mandapam. In the absence of a stove , he creates fire by burning small branches of trees and shrubs. There is nobody to assist him. His service goes unnoticed and unawarded. The irregular payment of monthly salary in few hundreds can not afford him to rent a house. Hence he stays inside the temple itself. Yet his sincerity is maravellous which can be seen only in few places.

Now let us come back to the priorities in life. Do we show hesitation in spending huge money towards education, entertainment , marriages, celebrations wherein a sizable portion goes as waste. Do we earmark atleast 1% of the spending towards the welfare of deserving people and rebuilding of temples. Mere commenting on the deterioration of our culture is not enough. Let us ask ourselves whether we have done our part to prevent the erosion. Lot of fieldwork is required for this gigantic task. The formation of a task force as discussed above is the need of the hour. Are we ready to give priority to this? Let us act at this eleventh hour to retrieve our lost pride and cultural heritage.