In harmony: After chapel and mosque, Lucknow’s La Martiniere College gets a temple
Constructed on the Baker’s Field of the nearly 200-year-old French building, the temple aims to fulfil the long-pending religious need of the college boarders as well as resident staffers.
La Martiniere College, which has a chapel and a mosque on its premises, has opened a Shiva temple now.
For routine prayers and even during festivals like Navratri and Mahashivratri, the boarders and staffers had to visit temples outside the college premises, said principal Carlyle McFarland.
The ‘pran pratishtha’ (consecration) ceremony of the ‘Shivling’ was attended by the students, teachers and principal.
The rudrabhishek (ritual bath) on Sunday was followed by havan and bhandara (feasting) in which the senior boys took special care of the younger ones and displayed a good example of brotherhood and care, the principal said.
Established in 1845 in accordance with the Will of its founder Major General Claude Martin, the college has a huge chapel where prayer service takes place on special occasions.
Besides the beautifully decorated chapel, the tomb of Boulone, also known as Gori Bibi, the founder’s favourite lady companion, exists on the La Martiniere estate.
The principal himself celebrates Holi, Diwali and Eid with the students. Only recently, the college earned applause for introducing Urdu and establishing the Alliance Francaise Centre (French learning centre) on its premises.
“This initiative of establishing a Shiv temple will help the boarders offer prayers with ease,” said Joyanto Mukherjee, who passed out of the college in 1978.
“At a time when communal strife is tearing the social fabric at many places in the country and the world, La Martiniere College now stands out as an oasis of religious harmony and peaceful coexistence,” said a teacher.
The nearly century-old Lucknow University has two Shiv temples, a mosque near the dilapidated Lal Baradari, two mazars (graves) and the grave of Sir Maharaj Singh — son of Maharaja Kapoorthala — who converted to Christianity. After his death, he was buried at a spot which is close to the present day geology department.