MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Working towards making pilgrimage a Swachh experience
Cleanliness is next to godliness and Dr Karthik Narayanan, Managing Director of Sabari Consultants, understands it well. Because of his initiatives, Sabarimala devotees visiting the Lord Ayyappa temple are having a swachh experience.
An annual happening, every year lakhs and lakhs of pilgrims start visiting Sabarimala from November 16th to January 20th the next year. As the temple is situated in the Periyar tiger reserve, a dense forest, devotees have to trek through the tough forest path to reach the Lord Ayyappa temple. There are 1,150 toilets in the Sannidhanam camp in Sabarimala but a very few in the Pampa base camp of Sabarimala. And so keeping those clean is a big challenge. Adding to this is the huge solid waste dumped and wild forest pigs. Cleanliness is next to godliness. But this God’s abode was full of dirt. For the devotees visiting Sabarimala, it was very difficult to overcome these challenges. So Karthik Narayanan, Managing Director of Sabari Consultants, decided to start a project to keep the temple premises clean with proper waste management. This was the first corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative undertaken by Narayanan in the year 2010.
“Punyam Poonkavanam”, the initiative to maintain Sabari Saran Garden, was started first by identifying the dump yards, converting those into beautiful floral gardens, installing water fountains, fencing those to prevent animals make a mess of the area, etc. The then Special Commissioner for Sabarimala & District Judge of Pathanamthitta S.H. Panchapakeshan was in charge of Sabarimala along with the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB). The request for cleaning and maintaining the premises was welcomed by him and under his guidance and supervision, the movement started and it has been going on successfully.
The first phase of Project Sharan was Sabari Saran Garden, where all the dump yards were identified and converted into beautiful floral gardens. This was the first mission in this religious place that was carried out as a large-scale operation. The TDB President launched a scientific cleanliness programme by the Bangalore- based Sabari Consultants at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam in April 2014. The TDB President, Commissioner and Special Commissioner appointed by the Kerala High Court K. Babu took part in the cleaning drive PROJECTSHARAN, help on the Ayyappa temple premises. The TDB has entrusted Sabari Consultants with the task of cleaning the solid waste and maintaining the temple in a scientific way to provide a peaceful atmosphere. Sabari Consultants had been actively involved in Sabarimala cleaning from 2010 to 2014 as a voluntary service only. This was a part of CSR activity. Dr Karthik Narayanan have cleaned Sabarimala premises, from Pamba to Sannidhanam trek, en-route the forest trek path, especially have cleaned toilets and have maintained hygiene by bleaching the area and creating awareness to devotees visiting Sabarimala to not to open defecate and by also joining hands with various NGOs to install bio urinals in the forest trek path without affecting the nature.
Sabari Consultants Managing Director Dr Karthik Narayanan said that it was always a pleasure to work in the Sannidhanam, and trust and the work efficiency shown from 2011 to 2014 had given him this new curve to his service to Lord Ayyappa.
The CSR journey of Dr Karthik Narayanan took off with this project. Recently, Narayanan and his team joined hands with Mrs Usha Raman, School Head of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal Golden Jubilee Mat Higher Secondary School, Tirunelveli, under the guidance and supervision of district Collector Mrs Shilpa Prabahakar Satish in Tirunelveli District, cleaned the entire riverbed near the Thai Pusa Padi Thurai, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu on the occasion of River Tamirabharani Pushkaram, which happens once in 144 years. The sludge from the riverbed was scientifically cleaned so that devotees can have a clean holy dip.
The project was undertaken as a voluntary initiative by Mrs Usha Raman, who is a visionary and has dedicated her lifetime towards bringing and uplifting child’s education in Tirunelveli. She runs a school with strength of more than 4,000 students and is one of the most recognized school in South India for its great achievements and records in all fields, education, sports, cultural activities and most importantly CSR activities and initiatives. Mrs Usha Raman is the best inspiration and example for a great teacher and human being and her contributions for the society is always at par.
Sabarimala Garden Project
The Sabari Saran Garden project aimed at producing flowers required for daily rituals at Lord Ayyappa Temple and various other shrines at Sabarimala have been extended to more forest areas at the Sannidhanam and along the trekking path. The project has also been extended to Mahadeva temple attached to the TDB at Chengannur. Nine varieties of flowering plants specially used for rituals in Kerala temples are being cultivated in the garden. The idea was to nurse the flowering garden for a year or two and later handover to TDB.
S.H. Panchapakeshan, Special Commissioner of Sabarimala, said that Karthik Narayanan, a young Ayyappa devotee, had come forward to set up a flowering garden in about 3,000 square feet area which was a dumping ground at the foothills of the temple. Narayanan cleaned up the area, installed a fountain and a fence to keep away animals and visitors. Hundreds of devotees not only from Kerala but also from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other places sponsored different varieties of saplings and some 10,001 saplings had been made available from Bangalore for the project.
Anbudan Sapadu – Food with Love
Dr Karthik Narayanan’s other activities include “Anbudan Sapadu” – Food with Love, a simple concept under which home cooked meals are prepared, packed and delivered with clean bottled water to the homeless and downtrodden and many people who are left out from families and take shelter on the pavements, flyovers, railway stations and bus stands. At least 450 poor living on the streets are provided meals every day under the project. This project was started in 2014 in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu where every day 350 meals are served two times a day and most importantly without a day off and which has further been extended to other places in Tamil Nadu.
The company not only wants to carry out the Anbudan Sapadu programme in these towns but also plans to spread the concept to all towns and cities in Tamil Nadu so that nobody goes to bed hungry. Its more like a Food Bank System and anyone and everyone whomsoever is hungry can call the hunger helpline and home cooked fresh meals shall be delivered to them. Dr Karthik Narayanan says this is just a start and his service shall continue in the years to come. In his message to youth in India, “Small Minds Always Talk About Others – Great Minds Share Ideas” and end of the day, in a gentle way, you can always shake the world. When asked about his multifarious activities Dr. Karthik Narayanan said: Human being. “You don’t need a designation to be a leaders”.