The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mosquitoes get a temple

Hyderabad, March 5: N. Satish Kumar’s anti-malaria messages didn’t appear to have any sting. Then, he sought divine intervention and built a “temple” — to mosquitoes.

The “shrine” built by the government doctor in Prakasam’s Mokshagundam village — home to the ancestors of pioneering engineer M. Vishweshwariah — isn’t a design marvel.

But Kumar, weary of his ineffective campaign against mosquito-borne diseases through exhibitions and sermons, thought the 2.5-foot-high “shrine” would capture minds in villages where religion works more than the myriad brands of mosquito coils and repellents.

The mosquito “temple”, possibly the country’s first such initiative, stands out even in a state that has shrines to actresses, pets, departed lovers, dead parents and the like.

“I set up the temple to spread awareness about diseases spread by mosquitoes,” Kumar said. Each evening, on the way home from hospital, he spends time at the “shrine”, which has a large mosquito sketch (in picture) with the words, “Mosquito, come tomorrow”. His “lectures” are about basics — avoid waterlogging and filth.

There are no idols or prayers, only messages. “I told the villagers the temple wasn’t meant for worshipping mosquitoes but to learn more about the harmful effects of the insect on their own lives and that of their loved ones.”

To ensure that Kumar’s words aren’t forgotten, signboards with caricatures of the insect have been strung up, along with a list of do’s and don’ts, on the walls.

Kumar is getting his anti-mosquito mantras across but, unlike the celebrity temples, he has few “devotees” at his “shrine”. “He tells us that we get fever, filaria and other diseases from mosquito bites,” said Krishna, a villager, who was present during one of the many thinly attended sessions.

Mosquitoes might not have spawned “temples” before but authorities have long struggled to devise new ways to battle the sting squadron. In the early 90s, a Rajahmundry resident sued the local civic body for not doing enough to contain the menace and was awarded compensation.

The legal blow had prompted the authorities to offer cash rewards to those who swatted the insects in large numbers.

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