Chennai: Velacheri is known for its historic shrines including the Dhandeeswaram temple, and adding pride to the neighbourhood is N Adal Arasan, a resident who lives for the cause of Shiva temples not just in the locality but across Tamilnadu.
The 64-year-old is a resident of Lakshmi Nagar Main Road for the past 38 years. He retired as Assistant General Manager in Chennai Co-operative Bank and is now actively involved in cleaning Shiva temples and tanks, arranging annadhanams and supplying deepam oils for free.
“I am just following what my father used to do. At the age of 15, when I visited some temples in Thanjavur and Kumbakonam, I wondered why they were not neat and maintained properly. I started doing my service in 1999,” said Arasan.
When News Today visited his place, the kind of work he did was very evident. Even his house looked like a temple with several religious writings on the walls. The hall was stacked with rice and oil packets given by donors for the purpose of annadhanam and pooja. “We only accept donations in kind, not in cash,” he went on to say.
His informal group ‘Thiru Koil Uzhavara Pani Mandram‘ has over 200 members, but there are no hierarchy as such. “We help clean and renovate temples, white wash, build compound walls, clean tanks and so on. We have so far cleaned the Dhandeeswaram temple tank for about five times,” he recalled. But the noblest of all their services is that they provide ‘full meals’ to devotees at 30 Lord Shiva temples in villages across Tamilnadu everyday.
Over 50 people at each of theses places get the benefit. Also, they supply deepam oil to 600 odd temples every month.
Arasan said his work is limited to only villages as he feels the city temples have enough funds to be taken care of. “We focus on neglected temples in villages as awareness is less there.”
Talking about his inspirations, he said Gurukkal Appayya Dikshitar who lived 300 years ago was one of them. During his time, when both Marundeeswarar temple in Thiruvanmiyur and Dhandeeswaram temple in Velacheri were badly maintained and poojas were discontinued because of that, the Saint began conducting poojas at these two places. He even renovated these shrines, and at Dhandeeswaram temple, he helped build a compound wall. A tank which he built still exists inside the IIT-Madras campus. ‘It used to be called Appayar kulam, and is now known as Appalam kulam,’ Arasan said.
When asked why he took up this cause, he replied by saying, “We clean our houses right, we want to it be beautiful. Likewise, a temple is Gods house and lot of people come to visit. So it needs to be neat.” He is so attached to his service that he gave away to temples the cash that the family received as gifts for his three children’s weddings. He can be reached at 94451 21080, 72009 35145.