In mourning, Tumkuru joins hands to serve the needy

In mourning, Tumkuru joins hands to serve the needy

The city of Tumkur has come to a standstill as commercial establishments have shut down as a mark of respect to the late Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga Mutt. However, the town has joined hands to serve food free of cost to the needy.  Food distribution counters have been set up across the city.  DH photo

A day after the demise of Shivakumara Swami of Siddaganga Mutt brought Tumakuru to a standstill, thousands of residents joined hands to serve the needy in a gesture that upheld the legacy of the humanitarian seer.

All commercial establishments in the city had downed shutters as a mark of respect to the late seer. But spirited residents lined up to cook and distribute food to the needy. Their charity left no part of the town uncovered.

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More than 100 food counters were set up across the city. From breakfast to buttermilk in the forenoon to lunch and dinner, all efforts were made to ensure that none in the city went hungry.

The road passing through Tumakuru sees heavy traffic between Bengaluru and northern parts of the state and country. Volunteers called out all vehicles passing through the city and offered food.

“The seer was known for ‘trividha dasoha’ (three services) offering food, education and spiritual guidance. We are only serving food. We don’t want anyone to go hungry today,” said volunteers at the food stall near KSRTC bus station.

The murmur among devotees continued through the evening while some shouted out slogans demanding Bharat Ratna to the seer. The three gun salutes brought a pin-drop silence, indicating the formalities were coming to an end.

Laid to rest

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy handed over the flag that draped the seer’s body to Siddalinga Swami, the junior seer. The two-minute silence that followed the national anthem was punctuated with sobs of devotees and shutter sounds of cameras.

The body was carried around the temple before being taken inside, where leaders paid respects once again. The crowd that showed uneasiness throughout the evening watched the live telecast in rapt attention as the final rituals began.

While there were stalls all along the road as well as at junctions, the preparation of the food at Basaveshwara Ground next to Siddaganga High School was an experience in itself. Rice, sambar, pulav and other items were cooked in huge vessels.

Merchants and citizens made generous donations to serve 5 lakh people. “Besides this, donations are pouring in from all across the state,” said former MLA Sogadu Shivanna who was overseeing the work.

“I just received a call from Byadgi stating they are sending 2 tonnes of chilli powder. We already have 400 quintals of rice. There is no shortage for any material,” Shivanna said.

Rafiulla Khan, Karim Pasha, Sanaulla and Fazdul Rehman, all merchants from Santepete and Mandipete, had set up stalls in the two busiest markets. A big portrait of the seer formed the backdrop of the stall and puja was offered by the Muslim community.

Some members shared their memories of the seer. “We look at neither the caste nor religion. The service he did for society can’t be seen from any perspective but that of humanity. He helped many children from the Muslim community through his service, especially by providing quality education,” Rahman said.

Leaders of rice mill association, oil merchants’ association and hotel owners were working in unison. In the evening, normalcy returned slowly as residents came out and some shops opened.