The first Freemason Lodge in India was opened in Kolkata in 1729

A society that traces its origin to the times of King Solomon, Freemasons have long been considered a secret society by many. Their rituals and gestures - secretive codes to identify members- have only added to this belief.

But open for all sections of the society, Freemasons, who extol the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, have been gathering in Bangalore for more than 150 years now. Attracting people from all walks of life, they continue the Masonic tradition and rituals in the city.

On Tuesday, the Freemasons in the city are gearing up to join their comrades across the globe in celebrating Universal Brotherhood Day.

From the first ‘Lodge Bangalore No. 15’, a 151-year old Masonic lodge, the current number of Masonic lodges in the city has grown to 10.

Two others, ‘Lodge United Services’ and ‘Lodge Gibbs’, have crossed hundred years of existence. Currently, the city has about 700 members, most of whom meet every month at the Freemasons Hall or the temple as they refer to, on Primrose Road. Some members also meet in Malleswaram.

“There is nothing secretive about the society. Anyone can participate. There are some secret codes that we use to identify another member.

We are a secular society,” says V. Kumar Subramanian, the assistant regional Grand Master of Bangalore Area. “Freemasons also undertake charitable work. In Bangalore, we are involved in free education and conducting health programmes .” Despite their purportedly ancient origins, the issue still is a matter of debate.

The present origin of Freemasons goes back to June 24, 1717 in London. The first Lodge in India was opened in Kolkata in 1729.

The Lodges in India were under the Grand Lodges of England, Scotland or Ireland till 1961, when the Grand Lodge of India was formed.

Eminent personalities such as Swami Vivekananda, Motilal Nehru, C. Rajagopalchari, Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi were said to be Freemasons.

“We believe in the Supreme Being. When the member is initiated, he has to take an oath of secrecy sworn on the religious texts,” said Mr. Subramanian.

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