Kovur Vishnu Temple – Reach Foundation: Conserve our Rich Heritage!!
Our first foot set towards renovation was in Kovur, where the deity is Karunakaraperumaal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi. This temple had stone pillars strewn near the temple wall. Kovur Sundareswara Shiva temple, which is stone throw away, is hitting news now and then, but this Vishnu temple needs care.
Kovur Sundareswara Temple is where Saint Tyagaraja sung the famous Kovur Pancharatnam on praise of Lord Shiva, while visiting his friend Sundaresa Iyer. Both these temples date back to the Chola period dating between 7th to 12th century A.D. which is beleived to be built by Kolothunga Sholan. But some claim Karunakara Pallava, who won the Kalingam War, (thus was sung the famous Kalingathu parani, by Jayamkondar) built this Vishnu temple and hence the name Karunakara stuck to the deity!!
As the name goes, Karunakara seems to be really kind (‘karunai’)hearted or handed, when it comes to donation! When the renovation took up at the Shiva Temple, in 1968, the renovators found so many pillars lying around the Vishnu temple that they merrily took them away to resurrect the Shiva temple, abandoning the Vishnu tample as it is. Both temples were contemporary to each other, and beleiving the priest’s quote, the King had built both temple in same style and grandeur but it is irony that Karunakara perumal was forced to gifted away his temple pillars to Sundareswara!! The present priest visits once or twice a day, as he has to shuffle between 10 such odd temples in and around for nitya pooja!
Coming back to current situation and our primary visit,the real credit for planning of cleaning up the Vishnu temple and its premises goes to Shri.Dr.R.Subramanian, M.V.Sc.,Ph.D (AIIMS), [who was previously in JNU,Delhi]. This unassuming young old man has shifted his base to Kovur and had started chanting of Vishnu Sahasranaama Parayanam in this temple. He had called Rajan Ganesh the founder of the temple_cleaner yahoo group, to start the operation with this temple!!
Few other members of his trust formed by the Kanchi Mutt, for renovation of temples, Goshala (Cow breeding centres) and to help the needy Hindu Priests who are suffering due to pathetic life conditions, are all supporting him to carry over these agenda.
The other members who were spearheading this operation were K.Sankaran,IFS,Deputy Conservator of forests, now serving in Virudhunagar, his sons, Mr.P.N.Subramaniyan, an SAP IT Industrialist,. to name a few. Among the volunteers, there were many veterans who had done many temple renovations, eradication of leprosy and giving life and means to lepers, psunami affected persons, spreading Gayatri Japa to all living beings, running schools for the downtrodden and under previleged, etc. For new comers the positive aura this band of volunteers spread was something which cannot be explained in few words. Dr.R. Subramanian, along with the local Panchayat President P. Devandran, vouched for regular maintenance and showed their interest by distributing showels and sickles for cleaning the temple, feeding the volunteers and the public who came to peek around,as to ask, ‘Hey,what’s going on?’ with good spiced Pongal and Sambar!The Panchayat president also promised to bulll doze the surroundings, clean the walls, paint it white and lay concrete path from the entrance till the sanctum sanctorum. The pathetic point Dr.Subramaniam made is that, the temples’ land and properties are still held by leasees abd sparingly any money comes from them, for the benefit of the temple. Making an apolitical statement, all volunteers decided to carry it from here and make this temple well maintained.
The positive point was that some school boys who peeped in lent their helping hand in the cleaning operation.
The group decided to spend all 3rd Sundays of every month for this effort of Temple Cleaning or shall we call it as temple revival??
We had a policy of not switching over to temples until one temple is finished completely. But Rajan Ganesh’s call today was really giving me immense joy when I heard the Kovur temple premises was cleaned much before we had anticipated!!
We had mentioned in our Kovur visit, that the local Panchayat President, P. Devendran promised us that he would clean the temple premises using bull dozers. I was told by Rajan Ganesh, that the President kept up his word and the premises looks spick and span!! The gate is getting ready and then we will be planting floral trees, thulsi within the premises. The temple cleaners conveys its special thanks to this rare politician who had kept up his promise!! We will once again plan a trip to call for a meeting and make the local villagers the responsible group to maintain the temple in years to come.
The next target is Thiruvenkaadu, which Mr.Sankaran, IFS had quoted to us earlier. I was told that the local villagers are also ready to join hands to clean this temple and one Ms.Lavanya a Chartered accountant with the World Bank, Chennai Branch also a scholar in studying ‘Kalvettu’ (stone inscriptions) has agreed happily to tour with us to educate us on how to clean such inscriptions and restore them!! She keeps traveling all week ends to many such temples to bring out the readings on every stone, which has buried treasure- our Tamil history. Her works and that of others are well recorded in http://www.varalaaru.com. I know her from my membership in other rich yahoo groups who are admirers of Kalki and his work Ponniyin Selvan. It is really heart warming that our hobbies turn out into a serious act, for the welfare of our fellow beings and to the common public!! I wish all our members talk to near and dear ones, and bring in more volunteers.
Me and Rajan Ganesh are in touch with other groups which perform the temple cleaning act for years and will try to make a mega group, which in future will work in batches the same day for cleaning more temples parallelly.
Mr. Rajan Ganesh will be informing us through our yahoo group mail about the route map and action plans.