As Anna Hazare's campaign for a strong Lokpal Bill gathers pace in rural India, people in a non-descript village in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh have gone a step further in extending their support to him by establishing a make-shift temple, idolising the Gandhian.
Chanderi village in Sehore has suddenly shot into limelight following the establishment of a Hazare temple there, where a mix of hero worship and cult propagation is at full display with people offering prayers and singing bhajans.
"To begin with we have installed a photgraph of Hazare (downloaded) on a Chabutra (platform) under a tree in the village on the occasion of Janmashtmi festival," M S Mewada, who along with 4-5 others were instrumental in establishing the temple, told mediapersons.
"Like any other temple, we are performing his 'puja' (prayers) twice daily besides singing bhajans specially penned in honour of Hazare," he said. We also distribute 'Prasad' of coconut powder mixed with sugar daily among his growing followers, Mewada said.
When asked what inspired them to set up a temple, he said, "after Mahatma Gandhi, who had given us freedom, it was Anna Hazare who is fighting relentlessly to liberate us in a real sense."
"His simplicity, his home at village Ralegan Siddhi, his lifestyle, vigour and dedication for the cause by remaining single in his life has inspired us to treat him as a God in a temple," Mewada said.
Mewada claimed that they were not doing it for publicity and were following a call from their conscience to do something for a person like Hazare when they saw him fighting with the high and mighty by following the principles of non-violence.
"Besides, Hazare, who else has a capacity to fast for 10-days? He is a God. Let any other person or PM of the country observe a fast for such a long period and if he succeeds in doing so then they will not hesitate in making his temple also," Mewada claimed.
The villagers have decided not to accept any donation for the purpose and are not allowing visitors from neighbouring villages to offer even a single paisa in the temple.
"We are only taking help from the people in the form of prasada which they can purchase from outside and provide to us for the distribution to his devotees," he said.
The village group is also planning to construct a temple by installing the statues of Hazare along with that of Gandhiji in the village after having a word with Team Anna."For the purpose, a number of people are ready to donate their land willingly," Mewada said. They also urged the state government to earmark a piece of revenue land in the village so that a grand temple can be constructed in the honour of Hazare.