Sunday, February 25, 2024

A temple for the Constitution in Thiruvananthapuram observes its third anniversary on August 15

Sivadasan Pillai at the temple he built near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution

Sivadasan Pillai at the temple he built near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution
| Photo Credit: SREEJITH R KUMAR

On August 15, Sivadasan Pillai will celebrate the third anniversary of his temple dedicated to the Indian Constitution. Known locally as the Bharanaghatana Kshetram (Constitution Temple), the non-descript building is located on three cents of land near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram.

An open copy of the Constitution is on display inside a glass case on the porch of the building. A lamp shines on it, 24×7. All around it are messages culled from the Preamble and Articles of the Constitution. Painted images of BR Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Thycaud Ayyavu Guru, Vinoba Bhave, Ayyankali, Chattambi Swami, Sri Narayana Guru, Gandhiji, and so on adorn the walls inside and outside the building. Sivadasan explains, as he applies vibhuti on my forehead, that this is to instill in people the idea that this is no less than a place of worship.

The temple built by Sivadasan Pillai near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution

The temple built by Sivadasan Pillai near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution
| Photo Credit:
SREEJITH R KUMAR

Founded on August 15, 2021, the temple is an embodiment of the former social science teacher’s firm belief that the Constitution is the panacea for the problems that is holding back India and Indians.

After three decades of teaching in a school in Punalur, Kollam, Sivadasan Pillai was keen on taking up social work after his retirement. “After a lifetime of teaching students social sciences, I wanted to make people aware of why the Indian Constitution should be our guiding star. That is why I decided to establish this temple,” he says.

With the money he got when he retired, the veteran bought a dilapidated house next to his and renovated it for his ‘temple for the Constitution.’ Early in the morning, he ensures that the lamp is burning, cleans the wick, adds more oil and plays patriotic songs till about 10 am.

“Religious fundamentalism, casteism, superstition and inequalities of many kinds would have been gradually erased or reduced had we and our politicians followed the Constitution in word and spirit,” insists the spry 72-year-old.

To do his bit, Sivadasan Pillai organises activities for children in the neighbourhood. In the course of games and storytelling, he says, he talks to them about the Constitution and the India envisaged in it.

“Who does not like a story? So, I want to talk to children about what makes us Indians and convey that with the help of homilies and stories.”

Sivadasan Pillai at the temple he built near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution

Sivadasan Pillai at the temple he built near Kudappanakkunnu in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, to venerate the Indian Constitution
| Photo Credit:
SREEJITH R KUMAR

He says that on the occasion of Independence Day, 2023, he plans to launch a new movement called ‘Constitutionalism’. “If all Indians considered the Constitution as their holy book and read it every day, we would have been able to understand the essence of it. It would also help in developing a scientific temper. Article 51(A), which lists the fundamental duties of an Indian citizen makes it clear that (it is the duty of an Indian citizen) ‘to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’.”

According to the septuagenarian, the constitution exhorts Indians to question superstition and blind beliefs. “If we enquire why we follow certain beliefs, rampant in every religion, we will be able to find answers and help eradicate dogmatic observation of customs and beliefs.”

Although the ‘temple’ was established on Independence Day, its founding day is celebrated on November 26, to comemmorate the day when the Constituent Assembly adopted the Indian constitution.

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