Monday, November 28, 2011

Difficult Task Ahead

The role of Government and the People in maintaining the ancient Temples has undergone sea changes over many centuries. The Kings took the responsibility of renovating the Temples and set example for the subjects to follow them. They believed that the the agricultural lands gifted to the Temples would take care of the maintenance and daily rituals. Except at the time of foreign aggression, the Temples were adequately protected by these Endowments. The dark era however started when non pious people took over the reign of Power and appointed their men as Executive officers of the Temples and allowed to keep blind eye when the tenants of the lands failed to pay back the paddy or money, contrary to the contract. The inaction of the Government and migration of pious people from villages was the prime cause for the damage done. The Parasites from political background have even misled people and assured them that the  Temple Lands would be allotted to them if elected to Power. It is under these difficult circumstances, the pious people will have to step in to do lot of ground work instead of just visiting the Temples, doing Bhajans and writing travelogues.By saying this, we may sound critical though, but the real intention is to give more focus on "do it now" issues facing the Temples.If someone feels that this amounts to impertinence, these remarks may please be ignored.

The stimulus required was therefore well analysed some three decades ago and as a result of which "Thiruvathirayan Thiruvarut Sabhai" was formed. Impetus was given mainly to "on the spot analysis" and actions were planned and implemented accordingly. Among the various activities undertaken by the Sabha, Temple renovation, painting (with due care not to hide inscriptons and murals) , Kumbabishekam, Long service recognition and renumeration to Sivacharyars, Monthly renumeration and Life Insurance for the priests, Inscribing the Holy Hymns on the walls of the respective shrines,Protection of Temple Ponds and Gardens, Reciting the Holy Hymns from Thirumurais, Participating in Temple festivals, Creating awareness by posting blogs in internet, publication of small booklets are worth mentioning.The activities need special attention and not more than 2-3 projects are handled at any point of time.

Visits are arranged to understand the rich Heritage and remind the participants about their role in conserving the same. The "on the spot inspection" gives them an opportunity to think more on the tasks ahead. The "Job on hand" visit thus differs from an ordinary tour. The satisfaction derived makes them turn into Heritage Lovers. They start looking at the Murthis with great interest and ask questions related to them to get clarity. The outer Prakarams with Devakoshtams therefore draw the attention they deserve. People who never looked at rows of "Yaalis" and "Bootha ganas" around the sanctum are delighted to view them by admiring the skill of the artisans and the contribution of the Emperors who built the amazing structures.

Kings took time to build/renovate Temples amongst the many wars they fought during their lifetime. The war at Thalayaalangadu(between Kumbakonam and Thiruvarur) where the Pandyan King fought bravely with Chola and Chera Emperors created History. The devastation caused during the war did not spare even some temples and the preence of scattered murthis all around the location picturises the gravity of the war. Despite the grave situation, many Temples in that area had survived and Sri Nardhanapureeswara Temple is among them that stands tall although a renovation is round the corner. Our Sabha is in the process of renovating the Temple Kitchen (Madapalli) and part of the priest's house which is leaking badly.The revival of Temple Garden was initiated last month by planting various species of plants.

The Tank here is considered as Holy as it is said to cure skin diseases. We have taken up the job of cleaning the pond but that was not easy. A long pole with T- joints (see picture) was used to grab and drag the algae to the banks. But the job had its limitation as the algae could be cleared only the distance upto which the pole could be extended. Hence an airfilled tube was employed over which two persons could sit and reach the middle of the tank and clear the plant growth. This was done after ensuring that the men engaged were good swimmers. The presence of a small boat could serve the purpose more easily and effectively.

Temple cleaning operations are being taken up by many groups regularly with lot of dedication. It is heartening to hear that people travel some 200 K.M to clean a village Temple every month. They also involve themselves in assembling at a place to recite Hymns from Thirumurais .Special mention must be made here about enthusiasists from Bangalore who travel all the way to Tamilnadu and clean the village Temples.

 Their desire to sing the Hymns in the original tunes was appreciable. It was indeed a pleasure to sing the Hymns in front of such an elated audience which followed each word rendered with lot of attention. The inspiration and coordination offered by my friend Mr Ganesh , who also maintains a website, is remarkable. The website bears testimony to the great job done by him on par with a department of an University.It is an excellent effort to reach the people on many aspects of Shaivism but the people must be fortunate enough to make use of it.

Though the Task ahead looks difficult, we find some light in the middle which enriches our optimism.