Ramdhun to recall Bapu
|Idol of Gandhi-ji at the Gandhi temple in Sambalpur. Telegraph picture|
Sambalpur, Oct. 2: Residents of Bhatra today offered flowers and sang devotional songs before the idol of Mahatma Gandhi installed at a temple here.
The Sambalpur district administration and the Gandhi Temple Development Committee organised an all-religion prayer meeting on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.
Bhatra is located at ward No. 1 of Sambalpur Municipality. Local residents had built the Gandhi temple in 1974 with the initiative of Abhimanyu Kumar, a former legislator of Rairakhol constituency.
A bronze idol of Gandhi-ji was installed in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The temple priest offers puja by reciting the Geeta and the Ramdhun. People assemble here for morning and evening prayers every day.
“In 1932, Gandhi-ji addressed a grand meeting in Sambalpur. I had attended that meeting. The speech he delivered at that meeting had inspired me to build this temple,” said Kumar.
“The foundation stone for the temple was laid on March 23, 1971, and it took almost three years to complete the construction. The temple was formally opened on April 11, 1974,” said Kumar.
The temple has been an attraction for people of all walks of life. Here, priest Kalia Bagh, a Dalit, reads out Gandhi-ji’s teachings and writings to enlighten the younger generation.
“I have been performing my service in the temple since the day it was built. Every morning, the local people assemble here to offer puja to Gandhi-ji. We recite the Ramdhun. Gandhi-ji was the messiah of the Dalits,” said Bagh.
However, the temple development committee rues lack of care and attention on part of the district administration for maintenance of the temple.
“This is probably the only Gandhi temple in the country. But, it is yet to get any assistance for its development from the government. The Aditya Birla group has decided to develop a park near the temple,” said Pramod Ranjan Kumar, president of the Gandhi Temple Development Committee.
“We do not remember Mahatma Gandhi only on the special occasions. We offer prayers every day,” said the temple development committee president.