Now that a local non-profit trust is helping take care of a group of aged and disabled Sadhus (on Pradakshina Road, in Tiruvannamalai, on the west side of Arunachala), they see that more needs to be done besides feeding and critical medical care.
A number of the Sadhus are bedridden. One has an old bed tied together by string. There are two others that are bedridden, but who do not even have beds. So the Trust set out to help, to provide those Sadhus with beds.
The process starts out at a store near the big Arunachaleswarar Temple. These shops still fascinate me. You never know what you are going to find inside.
The first thing I see are storage cans hanging from the ceiling. Not a shop where I would expect to buy beds.
Here is Dhakshinamoorthy of the Trust. He is standing by two beds! We would call these ‘cots.’ They fold out into beds, with straps woven together to sleep on.
The store, filled with reflective metal merchandise.
There is a wall of pressure cookers. I find out that this store is a distributor for some products (and so offers a lower retail price, too. That is why Dhakshinamoorthy shops here).
Pillows, with bronze pots behind.
Upstairs, out of sight from the ground floor, are wooden beds, and more.
Bags of bronze pots.
A wall of bronze water jugs.
Even several boxed refrigerators!
Some kind of metal item, in a stack.
These are bronze spears, like that used by Lord Murugan. These are named ‘Vel.’ Murugan is very popular in Tamil Nadu.
Small brass bells, hanging from a string.
More shiny objects.
We need three beds, mattresses, and pillows. We get pillows
Writing a bill for the beds and pillows.
Carrying them out to a waiting rickshaw. Rickshaws are often used like small trucks to carry things.
Some beds inside the rickshaw, and one tied to the roof.
We needed to go to another shop to get mattresses.
Naturally the ones we wanted were at the bottom of the pile.
Dhakshinamoorthy pays for the items…
…then they are loaded into the rickshaw.
Then we drive about 5 km to the Sadhus.
Then unload the rickshaw.
The boy just stepped up to help. His name is Vignesh. He says that he is a Sadhu, too.
Vignesh brings pillows and mattresses.
And unloads them onto an opened cot.
A Sadhu watches us.
Here is the thatched building that half of the disabled Sadhus live in.
A young Sadhu names Ramana waits for us. He has taken charge of caring for these Sadhus.
One of the Sadhus sits and watches.
The bed we are replacing is for a blind Sadhu. He has only a few coins as his possessions. He ties them into his dhoti so they will be safe while they exchange his bed.
The new bed is put into place. (Sorry for blurry pic, it is all that I have. )
Outside, a mother monkey, with her baby clinging to her chest, stoops in a bucket to get a drink.
Dhakshinamoorthy and Ramana talk about details.
Two beds remain to be given out to Sadhus.
Here are the two beds set up and occupied. They have been placed in a government building in front of the thatched hut where the others stay. Remember, these men, mostly bedridden, had only the floor to sleep and live on.
This building was built by the government, intended as a place for people walking Pradakshina around Arunachala to stop and rest. Half of the Sadhus being cared for live in the thatched hut behind this building. Those are the ones who need the most care. The others live here. These are the first beds in this building.
The Trust would like to improve the housing, but the situation is very complicated. These Sadhus have lived in this area for years, so to take them somewhere else is a big hardship for them. They also have a group of caring people (other younger Sadhus) who provide care every day. This includes handling bedpans and helping with baths. They are close to a temple so they can hear the sounds of bells and chanting, sounds that they feel are holy, and a part of their life.
To actually improve anything, the Trust needs permission from the Big Temple and from the District Collector. And in the state of Tamil Nadu there is a big push to remove housing from government and temple lands. So to improve or build anything goes against the wind. Maybe there is a nearby place the Trust can rent? They are looking.
But for now the Trust is helping care for these Sadhus, providing daily food, medical care, and things that are they need, like new beds. If you would like to help, let me know. Email me at email@example.com.