I am happy to announce that the birth centenary of my father late A. Dharmalingam, Journalist, will be celebrated from January 11, 2015 to January 11, 2016. We plan to have activities within our resources which will be beneficial to the Nilgiris and to our community, the two subjects which were always dear to my father.
We are celebrating his centenary not because he was a famous or a rich man. He was neither. He was a good human being- a good Badaga, a good Indian and a good global citizen. He did not leave behind money or wealth. He left behind certain values and principles.
The most remarkable thing about my father was that he was able to rise above the three major weaknesses of Badagas – superstition, prejudice and jealousy. He never saw any differences in religion, caste, colour or creed. He respected tradition but adapted to modernization. He was never jealous of anybody’s wealth, status or popularity. He did not make a virtue of his honesty or integrity. He never cared for money. He was fearless but never showed disrespect or ill will towards anybody.
He was born into one of the leading families of Badagas whose fortunes turned when he was young. But he never showed bitterness or complained. Through sheer hard work he made a name and brought up the family. He helped thousands to get education which was denied to him. He helped hundreds to get jobs which earned them more salary than he ever earned.
My father knew more of our community members than any Badaga at any time. He had their welfare always in his heart though he never hesitated to condemn their unbecoming conducts.
Thanks to the legacy of his values I have been able to serve our district and our community through Save Nilgiris Campaign and later Nilgiri Documentation Centre for over three decades despite ever so many challenges.
I request our community to join us in celebrating my father’s centenary by fighting our three persisting weaknesses – superstition, prejudice and jealousy- at a time when every single Badaga family and many villages are being torn asunder by these evils
Swami Chithbhavananda’s ‘Daily Prayer’ has been my guide for the last forty years. Under the head ‘Monkey’ he says that an unrestrained mind is like a monkey. When it drinks the wine of desire it becomes uncontrollable. Then if the scorpion of jealousy bites it, its suffering is indescribable. The message should be clear to all of us.
Tomorrow, 5-1-2015, the Hette Habba for this year starts in Porangadu Seeme. Hette is a symbol of sacrifice and giving in, the two characteristics which have enabled the Badagas to survive and thrive for centuries. These qualities remain the best antidote for the evils of superstition, prejudice and jealousy which threaten our community today.
[Honorary Director, Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri]