CHENNAI: The 6th Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair, showcasing the extensive philanthropic activities of diverse Hindu organisations, was inaugurated by the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Sri Jayendra Saraswathi here on Tuesday.
Describing the coming together of over 200 organisations at the week-long Fair as a Hindu renaissance and awakening, the Kanchi seer chanted Sri Kanakadhara Stotram composed by Adi Sankara and explained the importance of charity and service to the poor and downtrodden. “Manava seva is Madhava seva (service to man is service to God),” he pointed out. “Protect dharma and dharma in return will protect you,” he said.
Noted columnist S Gurumurthy said the Fair was a demonstration that Hindu spiritualism and lifestyle was based on the principles that conserved forest and wildlife, preserved ecology and environment, fostered women’s honour, promoted patriotism and inculcated family and human values.
Drawing a parallel to the situation in the West, where the elderly, infirm and disabled were the responsibility of the State, Gurumurthy, who is patron of the spiritual fair, said in India they were looked after by their families. Charity was never institutionalised because every individual and family was an institution. “However, we found that the whole country was qualitatively not seen as compassionate, that we were lacking in philanthropy,” he rued.
“Hence, we decided to organise the Fair to showcase the service activities of Hindu organisations.”
Quoting statistics showing the extensive contribution of the organisations in the education and health sector, Gurumurthy said the efforts were now directed towards integrating Hindu spirituality to contemporary challenges like pollution and ecological and environmental degradation.
Earlier, eminent danseuse Padma Subramaniam said the Fair, which began in a small way with 30 organisations putting up stalls, was seeing the participation of 260 organisations this year. Besides, thousands of school children were taking part in various competitions. Traditional games like Pallankuzhi were also being revived.
Religious leaders of different faiths also spoke at the gathering. The Fair, which is being held at Sri Ramachandra Medical University Grounds in Tiruvanmiyur, will be open to the public from 9.30 am to 8 pm till July 14.