BENGALURU: With just a few days left for Ramanavami (April 14), people at the Srirama Seva Mandali, Rajajinagar, are a busy lot. With the temple chariot taken out annually for a rally across Rajajinagar, keeping it serviced and maintained is the job of a quiet and unassuming twenty-seven-year-old man.
This person is also responsible for keeping the entire temple premises clean and goes about his job with a quiet air of confidence. Ask him his name however and he proudly replies, “It is Saddam Hussein.” Hussein, who has studied only up to Class 2, does odd jobs, helps people in the area with shifting houses, works at a shop and also drives a cab.
When The New Indian Express team visited the Ram Mandir, located at 4th Block in Rajajinagar, Saddam was seen cleaning the premises. The temple was constructed in the late 1950s when Rajajinagar Layout was formed.
Saddam does not wait for anyone, enters the temple premises and starts working. He takes a ladder, climbs up till the roof, dusts and wipes, sweeps and cleans -- he does all that alone.
The idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman located at the top are covered in a layer of dust. Saddam cleans them with complete dedication till they look as good as new.
He also ensures, through a trial, that pulling the chariot is not taxing on those who do it on Ramanavami day when Rama’s idol is taken in this chariot across Rajajinagar.
Do people say anything?
“There are two kinds of people — one, who appreciate me for doing this job, the second pass comments on my work. I just greet them with a smile,’’ says Saddam.
How did he land this job? Venkatesh Babu, who owns Gandige Angadi (where pooja materials are sold) at Gandhinagar, employed Saddam. Babu says: “I sell Ganesha idols during Ganesha Chaturthi. Saddam works with me. It was I who referred Saddam for the annual cleaning work of the temple and he is doing it with complete sincerity. Everybody appreciates him.’’ In fact his mother Mehaboobi too often works here, cleaning vessels and doing other house-keeping jobs.
Seva Mandali office-bearers Nagarajaiah and TS Padmanabha said, “On special occasions, we have a group of 15 women who clean up the premises, vessels, and all of them are Muslims. They come on time, do their job and leave. We too do not ask about their religion, neither do they say anything. At the end of the day, the temple looks spick-and-span.’’