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Landmark at Thirumullaivayil

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

The Raghavendra Swami Brindavanam at Thirumullaivayil recently celebrated the Jayanthi of the spiritual leader with fervour.



DRAWING DEVOTEES:Raghavendra Swami Brindavanam at Thirumullaivayil

For eight years Raghavendra Swami Brindavanam, at 49/291, 7 {+t} {+h} Cross St., Saraswathi Nagar, Thirumullaivayil, Chennai, (Ph: 044- 32020225) functioned on a humble scale on a small piece of land. Today it stands majestic on seven grounds amidst lush greenery, and houses a five feet high marble deity of Raghavendra Swami. The Brindavanam was opened for devotees on January 1 and Raghavendra Jayanthi was celebrated with fanfare on February 21.

“Earlier family and friends alone would visit the temple and offer their prayers, but when around 5,000 devotees attended the Jayanthi, I felt Raghavendra Swami is using me as an instrument to nurture goodwill,” says dancer-actor and ardent devotee, Raghavendra Lawrence, the man behind the endeavour. He strongly believes that it was Raghavendra Swami who cured him of his tumour of the brain and gave him a new lease of life. “I can't explain. But I know for a fact that it was he who saved me. This temple, and my service to the hapless (Lawrence Charitable Trust in Ashok Nagar is doing yeoman service to the needy) are my ways of giving back to society a little of what Swami has blessed me with,” he says.



Raghavendra Lawrence.

Even when he was a dancer in films, he and his mother went ahead and built a shrine for Raghavendra on half ground. “A large temple with a brindavanam (garden) has been a long cherished dream,” says Lawrence.

Equal treatment

Annadhanam is undertaken every Thursday at the Brindavanam and at least 500 people are fed. Even in temples where free feeding is a regular practice equal treatment isn't always meted out to devotees. But here, be it eating or praying each is on a par with the other. “The number of devotees who had food went up to 2,000 on the day of the Jayanthi,” he smiles. Lawrence doesn't request anyone for funds. “God has given me more than I deserve,” he observes seriously. Yet if people wish to donate he accepts it, “mainly because I was told that no individual should take up a task of this kind on his own and that like-minded people should be allowed to participate in it.”

The temple, which is kept open every day from 6 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and again from 4 to 8.30 p.m., has a priest who performs the daily puja.

The norms to be followed while building the temple and installing the deity, and the rituals to be observed on a daily basis have been adopted meticulously. “I took instructions from the seers at Raghavendra Math in Triplicane. Raghavendra has never said none can touch him. ‘You can go ahead and allow devotees to offer their prayers in a manner they wish,' the chief Swamiji told me,” says Lawrence.

Thus a unique aspect of the temple in Thirumullaivayil is that devotees can touch the deity and perform aarthi too! “I talk to the figure in the puja room at home as I would to my father. I'm more comfortable when I stand close to the idol while pouring out my joy or woes. I thought others who come here may also feel the same way,” he explains.

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