At the inaugural session of Deepam, a multidistrict meet hosted by RID 3231, at Tiruvannamalai PRIP Kalyan Banerjee appreciated “every member of the district for showing relentless effort in organising this programme. You are a group of consistent and reliable Rotarians trying to build Rotary at a time when our organisation has reached a plateau. Programmes like these, where you address the spiritual side of a Rotarian, will help them feel a higher sense of purpose, peace, hope and meaning. Which in turn will build our confidence to do better not just for ourselves but for others too.”
Banerjee recalled a previous visit to this temple city with his late wife Binota, who was “terrified when the temple elephant tried to put a garland on us! Nonetheless, we had a good darshan and I will keep coming back, because of the wonderful memories and good friends I have made here.”
Comparing the event to a full moon night or pournami (in Tamil), when the city swells with thousands of pilgrims who walk 14km around the base of the Arunachala mountain to complete a ritual called Girivalam, DG J K N Palani, RID 3231, said: “It looks like a full moon today because our city is overflowing with the presence of Rotarians from across India. I hope you enjoy our South Indian hospitality.” Eleven Rotary districts with over 1,000 registrations, including DGs Dushyant Choudhary (RID 3070), N Nandakumar (3232), Raja Sekhar Reddy (3150), B Elangkumaran (3203), and I Jerald (3000) attended the event, along with several PDGs.
Asking the Rotarians not to think of it as a “mere coincidence,” RID 3232 PDG Abirami Ramanathan, said “You must have done some puniyam (good deed) to meet Lord Arunachaleshwar. After this event, I hope you will return to your district and double the good you are doing in the world.” He contributed ₹20 lakh to clubs in RID 3231 for six ambulances.
Set below the boulder-scattered Mount Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai is one of South India’s five ‘elemental’ cities of Lord Shiva. Here he is worshipped in his fire incarnation as Arunachaleshwar. The temple is one of India’s largest (10-hectare) dating back to the 9th century. “For six years now, my club has been hosting the multidistrict meet on the last day of the 10-day Karthigai (Hindu month) festival that the temple hosts. At a time when lakhs of people are visiting our town, we have made special arrangements for our guest Rotarians to experience a special darshan and witness the lighting of the Maha Deepam (a massive earthen lamp) atop the 2,668-feet high mountain,” explained Dr Saiprasanna Sampathkumar, a member of RC Tiruvannamalai and event committee member.
One of the highlights of the event was a panel discussion with PRIP Banerjee and DGs Palani Nandakumar, Choudhary, Raja Sekhar Reddy, PDGs Rajasekhar Srinivasan, and Arumugapandian. “The most important part of your leadership is to leave your district stronger than you found it,” said Banerjee. For a good future for the organisation, he advised the DGs to “look beyond your year and invest in Rotaract.”
Choudhary added “Nandakumar, Raja Sekhar, and I were Rotaractors who went on to be DRRs and are now DGs. We are living examples to show you that Rotaract is the future of our organisation.”
Banerjee stressed that “you cannot by yourself achieve something monumental in a year. Look beyond your position and year. Think how you can extend support to your incoming leaders.” Describing a club as the “basic unit of Rotary,” Nandakumar explained how important it was to “engage and nurture our members, and care for them. If we don’t, they are going to leave. We are sitting here because our leaders gave us responsibility and held us accountable. We have a lot to thank them for.”
During the event, clubs from the different districts exchanged flags, sister club agreements were signed and a few club projects were featured. Event chairman P T L Shankar delivered the vote of thanks.
Pictures by Kiran Zehra