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Food, fit for the Lord

Author: S. Prabhu
Publication: The Hindu
Date: July 6, 2018
URL:      https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/food-fit-for-the-lord/article24346847.ece/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Both Lakshmi Narasimhan and Srivatsan have given up lucrative jobs to serve at the Madapalli of Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple

The Madapalli at the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, Srirangam, is currently witnessing one of the biggest transformations happening in the temples of Tamil Nadu in the recent decades. Two software professionals have resigned their jobs and joined the Madapalli in an endeavour to dedicate their lifetime to the service of Lord Ranganatha and with a vision to restore the Madapalli to its ancient glory.

V. Lakshmi Narasimhan (40) was a software professional in a leading IT company. A student of Hindu School, Triplicane, Lakshmi Narasimhan won the budding mathematician award. A poetry writer, violinist and school topper in Table Tennis are his other credits. His father Venkatapathy, proficient in the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and an expert in Sri Bashyam, initiated his son into learning these scriptures at a young age. Narasimhan’s interest in technology, however, urged him to take up a job in the IT sector. Yet, that did not stop him from being associated with the social and religious service organisations and make donations to charities.

A dream come ture

He had always cherished a dream to serve at the Ranganathaswamy temple and waited for the right moment. And it was a dream come true for Lakshmi Narasimhan when he came to know through Krishnamachari, publisher of Vaishnava Sampradayam books based in Srirangam, that the authorities there were looking for dedicated persons to work at the Madapalli (temple kitchen). So, after quitting his job in the IT industry last year, Lakshmi Narasimhan decided to learn the religious intricacies by spending time at two ancient Divyadesams – Ahobilam and Badrinath. That gave him clarity and refinement and the courage to move away from the corporate world and initiate himself into serving at the madapalli and to propagate Ramanuja Sampradayam. Since the beginning of this year Lakshmi Narasimhan has been working at the temple kitchen.

When Pon Jayaraman, JC of the temple, took charge, a few years ago, he felt the need for dedicated people to run the Madapalli in the traditional way, (he found the staff members not wearing their traditional attire while working inside the temple), and to step up the quality of the service, with an aim to restoring the ancient tradition of the temple kitchen. And when he sent out a word that he was looking out for devoted people to perform service at the thirumadapalli in a traditional way, it was Krishnamachari again, who managed to elicit positive response from C.L. Srivatsan (31), a software professional. A few months later he was joined by Lakshmi Narasimhan.

Sri Krishnamachari, who assisted the temple in roping in these two persons, says: “Madapalli is a highly sacred place and those who work there have to follow certain tradition, including the attire — sporting 12 Thiruman, tuft and wearing Panchakacham. For decades this basic tradition had been ignored by the personnel.”

“There is an opportunity for Vaishnavites to serve the Lord but no one is eager to come forward,” adds Krishnamachari. Talking about his Madapalli service, Lakshmi Narasimhan, who has also been mentoring Srivatsan, expresses his gratitude to the JC, who has extended his support to the duo in carrying out the duties in the traditional way without the fear of opposition.

Revival initiatives

Lakshmi Narasimhan and Srivatsan have embarked on a number of initiatives for the revival of the Madapalli including the cleaning of the sacred well, using organic vegetables and traditional earthen pots for cooking.

They are bestowed with the responsibility of preparing the Periya Avasaram (full meals), Ksheeranam, Sthala Samba and Aravanai. They are also trying to revive the use of the ten traditional vegetables while preparing the Periya Avasaram for Periya Perumal. Both recite the Ramanuja Nootranthathi while performing their service at the Madapalli. And they are encouraged by the positive feedback from devotees and visitors to the temple.
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