Gandhi Temple !

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Can anyone make any guesses to which lord/deity in worshipped here.. Confused !

Let me tell you it’s none other then the “Father of our Nation” M.K.Gandhi in whose emmory this temple was made.

“Raghupati raghav rajaram, patitapawana sitarama,

iswara allah tero naam,sabko sanmati de bhagwan”

This Gandhi Mandir is perhaps the one and only temple, where the father of our nation is worshiped as a deity. It is situated in a “Harijan” village known as Bhatra in Sambalpur. And Bhatra belongs to the ward no. 1 of Sambalpur municipality and placed as the gateway to Sambalpur town, while coming from Bhubaneswar, the capital of Orissa state. It is identified as one of the most backward and undeveloped wards of Sambalpur municipality, where habitants are from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The locality is mostly deprived of developmental works and attention of the local administration.

The Gandhi Mandir can be describe in following ways:

1. History of the Temple.

2. Site Views.

3. Festival & Social Activities of the Temple.

4. About the Founder.

1. History of the Temple.

When untouchability was prevailing on Indian society, then untouchability was not only a stigma, but also it prevented the members of lower cast to avail social benefits. They where even prevented to share drinking water from community well, bathing in the community ghat (bathing place) and enter temple to worship the God. They were severely subjected to critical juncture of social situation arrival of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was like a long awaiting sunrise after dreaded dark night. As a sensitive human being he could realize the plight of untouchables and fought for their human rights. Thus earned a name of Mahatma Gandhi, literally means Gandhi, the great soul. He was so adored by his beneficiaries that they went up to extend of worshiping him as a deity and establishing temples in his name. Though it was a rare phenomenon, but it could happen at Sambalpur.

It was the time of early centuries of the last century. Then Abhimanyu Kumar as a vibrant leader of schedule caste community in the district of Sambalpur got elected as a Member of Legislative Assembly from Rairakhol constituency. He dared to initiate to establish a temple in the name of Mahatma Gandhi at Bhatra village, closed to Sambalpur town. Mr. Rabindranath Mohanty, the then Revenue Divisional Commissioner of Sambalpur laid the foundation stone for this Gandhi Mandir, on 23rd March 1971. It took around 3 years to complete the construction of this temple. Its interior decoration was designed by Mr. Truptabhusan Dasgupta a local artist of repute and the deity of the temple, Mahatma Gandhi was sculptured by artist of Khalikot Art College, Gnajam. Soon after its completion, it was inaugurated by Mrs. Nandini Satpathi, the then Chief Minister of Orissa on 11th April 1974.

2. Site Views.

Sambalpur, known as the gateway of western Orissa, is at a distance of 200 kilometers by train and 300 kilometers by on road from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa. There is an air strip at Sambalpur but no regular plane service. One may have to charter a plane service to reach here by air. The Mandir is almost 8 km away from Sambalpur railway station. While coming by road to Sambalpur from Bhubaneswar one enters Sambalpur municipality area at Bhatra on national highway no. 42.  The Mandir is situated in the south-west direction of the main road at Bhatra and a pucca road connects it with the NH.

The entrance to the Mandir faces the south-east direction. As per Hindu tradition there is always a Garuda Stambha in front of a temple, but here one would be amazed to find an Ashok Stambha in front of the Gandhi Mandir. Ashok the great is identified as one of the most successful emperor in Indian history and popular for propagating peace, love and compassion, even though he was worst of a tyrant in the initial phase of his ruling days. He has built a cylindrical pillar with an emblem of four lions facing all the four direction at the top of it as a symbol of his ruling era and this pillar is known as Ashok Stambha. Incidentally it is adopted as a National emblem of India soon after India was independent.

The Mandir structure is built on an area of 10.97 meters x 6.70 meters (36’ x 22’) and its height is 11.88 meters (39’). The entrance to the Mandir structure is in shape of an ornamented arc-way and there is a statue of Mother India (Bharatmata) holding a tricolor (national flag) on her left shoulder with the map of India as the backdrop at the top of this arc-way structure. The statue is having lions and peacocks at its both sides, as these are identified as the national animal and national bird. The Indian national flag is placed at the top of the super structure. A bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi is placed at the sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha) as the deity of the temple. It is in a squatting position (siddhasan) and stands about 1.07 meter (3.5’).

3. Festival & Social Activities of the Temple.

Like any other temple of India worship is a regular feature of this temple, though the occasions are different, specially on three occasions, i.e. Republic Day (26th January), Independence Day (15th August) and Gandhi Birthday (2nd October). There is a congregation of followers of Mahatma Gandhi to take part in the worship. The district magistrate and collector of Sambalpur as the chief administrator of the district come here to pay his respect to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Nation, before he starts his routine roundup on these occupations.

These functions are not only organized by the local people in a large scale, but also funded by their contribution in the leadership of Gandhi Mandir Development Committee. Their participation is not confined to these festival rituals. They also come forward to organize social works on behalf of Gandhi Mandir, such as health camps, cleaning drive of the temple and it’s surrounding along with free distribution of cloths to the poor. The local school students are also provided with school uniforms by the committee.

Besides these special occasions, the regular worship of Mahatma Gandhi takes place twice a day as a routine of the temple that is in the morning as well as in the evening. Another strange phenomena that takes place in these worship process is that takes place in these worship process is that he worshiper (pujhari) uses to recite Ramdhun (“raghupati raghava rajaram, patitapawana sitaram, iswara allah tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan”), which was very much laid by Mahatma Gandhi and he use to recite it very often, where as in most of the temples Sanskrit Slokas are recited as a regular rituals for worship of the deities. The local followers of Mahatma Gandhi use to gather in the temple before they start their daily chorus. Their faith on Mahatma Gandhi is so strong that they prefer to star their day’s work only after taking ‘prasad’ of this temple. The prime worshiper of the temple is such an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi that he leaves no chance to propagate the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi such as truth, non-violence and patriotism among the local school children, when ever he gets a chance.

4. About the Founder.

Mr. Abhimanyu Kumar is accredited as the founder of this Gandhi Mandir, bourn in a community, the then stigmatized as untouchables. He could bear the burnt. It was in the year 1922. Then unfortunately was prevailing in the Indian Society. Members of lower caste in the Hinduism where discrimination by the people of upper caste. Humanity had no value in the then prevailing society, as some people where subjected to in humanity in the name of casteism. They where prevented from their right as a human beings. Atrocities against such helpless untouchable were in the rise. And then arrived Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to fight for the cause of these innocent human beings. Thus earned the name as Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi, the great soul). Mr. Kumar as a child was highly inspired by the deeds of Mahatma Gandhi and made him one of his followers.

In the later course of his life, he could realized that it is the Mahatma Gandhi who has struggled hard to earn dignity for them and which his sincere efforts he has tried to bring them out of the clutches of social avail, the untouchability. Such was the inspiration that Mr. Kumar made of his mind tribute to Mahatma Gandhi in real terms. His dream to erect a temple, where Mahatma Gandhi can be placed as a deity, come true in 1971, the year he was sworn as an M.L.A. in the Orissa Legislative Assembly. As true follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he tried to propagated his teachings and gathered many many popularity that he was elected as an M.L.A. not for once but for four times, i.e. 1971 to 1973, 1980 to 1985, 1985 to 1990 and 1995 to 2000. At a mature stage of his age, now he is 84 years old and never tried, but still active in the social sphere.

Contact details:  http://www.gandhimandir.com/

GANDHI MANDIR DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
AT.: BHATRA, PO.: DHANUPALI
SAMBALPUR – 768005
ORISSA, INDIA
Phone No.: Cellphone: 09437126854 / Telephone: 0663-2410345