Hazare propels Ralegan on world map
From the now famous Yadavbaba temple in the village, where Hazare used to reside earlier, he has been shifted to a hostel for security reasons.Once a sleepy village that followed routine chores associated with the life in rural Maharashtra, Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district has now emerged as a focal point of a movement that appears to be changing the conventional equations between the rulers and subjects. It is all thanks to Hazare, whose roots and presence here has propelled the place on the international map.
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Image: Simran (2nd L) and Ikra wearing traditional caps offer coconut water and honey to Hazare
Hazare leaves Yadavbaba temple
"Yadavbaba was a saint, who came to Ralegan from the pilgrim centre of Alandi, situated on the banks of Indrayani, more than a century ago and took Samadhi here. The temple built to cherish his memory, became today's famous landmark, seen on television many times," says a villager.
He recalled that when Hazare returned to the village after being discharged from a Gurgaon hospital on conclusion of his historic 12 day fast in support of a strong Lokpal bill last month, he first went to the Yadavbaba temple to pay his respects.
Image: The Yadavbaba temple in Ralegan
Hazare interacts with villagers three times a day
Their beloved Anna, who is the 'presiding deity' of Ralegan after 'Yadavbaba', is now shifted to a new place -- Padmavati temple trust hostel --- for security reasons.
Six armed security men keep vigil in front of a grilled gate, from where, Hazare emerges three times a day to interact with the crowds gathered outside including the visitors from all over the country.
"He is the same Anna who calls himself " Mandiratla Anna" (The one who lives in Yadavbaba temple). But changes have become inevitable with the government security apparatus becoming real and visible, affecting his accessibility," says an old man, who fondly reminisced the days when Anna lived in the Yadavbaba temple, mixing freely with men, women and children.
Image: Hazare interacts with school children in his village
Business in Ralegan is flourishing
Nevertheless, the new accommodation of Hazare -- Padmavati devi trust hostel -- looks an ideal spot for the visitors, who flock the place, which has a spacious compound surrounded by trees and shrubbery. A small devi temple stands in the middle.
Outside the compound, some people are seen selling CDs containing a powada ( ballad) narrating the deeds of Anna Hazare, set to the tune of folk music of Maharashtra. Eateries in the village, too, are doing brisk business with the increasing flow of outsiders.
Image: A computer centre in Ralegan
In the mornings Hazare keeps to himself
In the early morning, however, he keeps to himself, when he takes a walk at a brisk pace alone in the compound under the eyes of the bodyguards working in shift duties.
Image: Hazare inspects a school building under-construction in the Ralegan Siddhi