It is the early 1970s. Viswanatha Iyer and his wife, a senior couple in their mid 60s, who stay close to Sri Karaneeswarar Temple at Bazaar Road, Mylapore noticed that the temple structure needed a facelift. They knocked on the doors of their neighbours. A few people donated. But it wasn’t enough.
So, every evening the couple walked into the temple and started chanting slokas from religious books. They kept a small hundial in front of them. Devotees dropped in their loose change, some four annas, some more.
A couple of years later, they, with other like-minded devotees, formed a group and named it Sree Porkodi Suhasini Sath Sangam. They were joined by K. S. Bhatt, who settled down at Karaneeswarar Koil Street in the 80s after retiring as the assistant commissioner of income tax and Chellammal, who is a nonagenarian now.
Slowly donations came in. With the money raised, they performed the abhishekams and made small but significant changes to the temple structure.
Bhatt’s daughter, septuagenarian Jayalakshmi Joshi, is an active member of the group now. She says she is happy to follow in the footsteps of her father. “Our group now has about 30 members and at 5 p.m. every evening, rain or shine, atleast a dozen of us are there at the temple everyday to continue the tradition of chanting slokas and hymns. We also teach anyone who wants to learn”.
She continues, “Till 2000, the temple did not have a defined pathway, it was all stones and mud. Harinath Gupta, a devotee and an active member of the group, built the temple gopuram and a proper pathway”.
The group also contributes towards special poojas held on Fridays in the month of Thai and Adi, Adi pooram and Navarathri, she adds.
The brahmotsavam was recently held at Sri Karaneeswarar Temple in Chitirai ; it always ends with
the thirukalyanam on chitirai pournami. And every year, the members of this group go out of their way to help in every little way they can.
This year, on Sunday, April 29 evening, the group donated towards the dhoties and sarees for all the deities, the articles needed for the homam and the sweets and savouries or seer bakshanam offered to the deity on that day.
Says Jayalakshmi, “After dusk on Sunday, we carried all the items from the Vadagoor Selva
Vinayagar Temple to Sri Karaneeswarar Temple. During the thirukalyanam, several women distributed yellow threads, bangles and packets of kumkum and turmeric. Some also gave away sweets and rock candy (kalkand)”.
Reported by Preeti Srivatsan