Chennaiite has hoisted tricolour continuously for 35 years

Sengalani after hoisting the national flag.

Chennai: For most of us, Independence Day and Republic Day is all about celebrating India’s freedom but for Sengalani (54), they go beyond that. The patriot, hailing from Nanganallur, has hoisted the tricolour on the two days not for a decade or so but continuously for 35 years – that is,  the most part of his life.

This reporter had a chat with the quinquagenarian about what drives his passion for the country.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Let’s know about yourself.
A: I am Sengalani (54), a resident of Nanganallur Teachers’ Colony Third Street, Chennai, working as a salesman in an automobile spare parts shop in the neigbourhood. I am a native of Gingee but have been settled here for the past five decades. My wife Karphagam (45) is a home-maker. We have three children: Nithya (28), who was recently married, Halini (25) and Aravind (21) who are pursuing their college studies.
Q: What inspired you to hoist the national flag in the first place?
A: We settled down in Nanganallur when I was just four years old. I pursued by early schooling here. During my schooldays, a couple of my teachers: Swaminathan and Indrani – were very patriotic. They fed me the spirit of the nation and helped me develop a passion for the country. A few years later, I was forced to drop out of school due to financial problems. But I never lost the passion. At one point of time, my friends and I decided to open a paadasalai in the neighbourhood to educate the underprivileged. When that became a reality, an idea sparked my mind to start hoisting the national flag on Republic Day and Independence Day.
Q: Let’s know more about your memories of hoisting the flag for the first time.
A: Soon, we gathered enough funds, got a pole, a national flag and hoisted it during the Republic Day of 1984. I still remember that day when the students of our paadasalai joined us in the celebrations. From that point of time to this day, we have hoisted the tricolour during all the years. The year 2018 is the 35th year of our service to reignite patriotism for our nation.
Q: Where do your hoist the flag?
A: On a regular basis, we hoist the flag at the junction of Nanganallur Teachers’ Colony First Street. Captain Selvaraju of the neighbourhood hoists the flag every year in the presence of the residents of Teachers’ Colony and its association office-bearers. We have also permanently allotted the place for the purpose.
Q: What’s your message for the recently concluded Independence Day?
A: It’s very simple. We should love our nation as much as we can. When we are patriotic, we can contribute collectively for its development. When the nation is developed, we will be the greatest beneficiaries. So, I call upon all citizens to celebrate the day with utmost patriotism.
Q: Your plans for the future?
A: I will continue to hoist the flag and do everything I can to inspire the people around me.

S Ben Raja