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In memory of a great man

NAMMA MADURAI Zumbropuram spells peace and religious tolerance

photo: G. Moorthy

Compact A noble testimonial

Zumbropuram, as a residential colony, fits nicely into the Know Your Area column but just a peep into the history behind the name and the events that preceded the formation of the place reveals that there is more to it than what meets the eye.

The area is named after W.M. Zumbro, an American Missionary and Principal of the American College, whose pluralistic activities and foresightedness earned him encomiums of the public.

History

According to M. Devaraj Pandian, one of the descendants of early settlers in this area and a retired Tahsildar, it was during 1860s that families from Kalunguvilai and Achampadu villages near Sathankulam, migrated to Madurai and settled at the marshy land near the Vaigai River due to famine.

Around 1903, when the American Missionaries were on the look out for a place to establish their educational institution in the city, they found this marshy land suitable. Zumbro played a key role in helping these families settled down on two acres near Goripalayam, bought from a Muslim Haqdar (one who got the rights for the land).

Not only did he ensure that they were well settled but he also helped them build a chapel in the area. In recognition of his kind heartedness, people named the place after him.

T. Pitchai, a retired tahsildar and a resident of Goripalayam, with a fair idea about Zumbropuram, endorses the religious tolerance prevailing in this place.

A noble character

T. Chinnaraj Joseph Jaikumar, Principal of The American College, heaps loads of praises on Zumbro.

“He was an academic visionary committed to the cause of cultural and religious pluralism. At a time when religious tolerance was not at its best, he appointed a Hindu gentleman from Batlagundu and a Muslim man from Uttamapalayam as members of College Governing Council just to be in touch with reality of India and Indian needs.”

“A self-effacing character, he did not want his name to be etched on the plaques of the buildings he erected even though he was instrumental in bringing out impressive structures, which stand tall today as a testimony to his efforts,” beams Mr. Chinnaraj.

“He was a hard worker and it turned out to be his nemesis. He died of exhaustion while at work in office. Those who had happened to read about the life history of this gentleman could not resist from appreciating his efforts,” he says.

No doubt, the area was named after this American visionary in remembrance of his self-less service to people.

T. SARAVANAN

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