Senior citizen raises trees around temples as own progeny

V. Karuppiyah watering trees at Keezhapuliyur in Perambalur district on Friday.  

Defying age, a 75-year-old man has dedicated his life to growing trees around temples in Keezhapuliyur, and tends to them on a daily basis.

V. Karuppaiah can be found watering the trees near any of the 10 temples in Keezhapuliyur at any given time during the day. With no children, Karuppaiah looks at the trees as his progeny. His affinity for the trees got higher after the death of his wife three years ago, villagers say.

“I planted the first bunch of trees here in 1977 when many trees were chopped down,” he said. He planted two saplings for every tree which was cut down. “They needed wood for the temple chariot but survival of trees is as much important,” he added.

The Dharmakartha (official caretaker) of all ten temples in the village for over 25 years, Mr. Karuppiyah has taken it upon himself to ensure green cover around the village. “It used to be like a forest when I was growing up, with animal sightings every once in a while, but once trees were felled, the animals left. I wish to bring them back and see at least a few animals here before I die,” he said, nonchalantly.

Devotees stop to wish Mr. Karuppiyah as they pass by him. “Each of the bricks in this temple was laid by the hard work and prayers of the people. We were able to collect ₹ 4.5 crore and the construction was completed in 2019,” he said.

My only way of leaving a legacy is through these trees, Mr. Karuppiyah said. “I do not have children and someday, when someone resting under these trees thanks God for the shade in the scorching heat, I will be happy,” he added.

When asked how many trees he has planted in total, Mr. Karuppiyah smiled. He plants a new set of trees every four to five years. “Last year alone, I planted 200 saplings. The funds for these come from local donors, contacts in the government departments and from Mr. Karuppiyah’s own pocket. “What do I need money or savings for? What I get for taking care of the temple, I give back,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 11:13:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/senior-citizen-raises-trees-around-temples-as-own-progeny/article32984416.ece

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