Mysuru: A grand civic reception and felicitation was accorded to Padma Bhushan and Dharmadhikari of Srikshetra Dharmasthala, Rajarishi Dr. D. Veerendra Heggade at Maharaja’s College Grounds this morning. The occasion was to mark his completion of 50 years after taking over the administration of Dharmasthala as Pattadhikari.
Pattadhikari Dr. Veerendra Heggade is a renowned philanthropist and has been the hereditary administrator of the Dharmasthala Temple in Dakshina Kannada. The 400-year-old Shiva temple is a household name, taken care of by Vaishnavite priests and administered by the Jain Heggade family, in a long tradition of multi-religiousness.
Dr. Heggade has greatly expanded the scale and scope of the services provided by the temple and his Dharmasthala Gramabhivruddhi initiative covers 19,028 villages and 320 towns. It facilitates empowerment of 2.59 million families in agriculture, health, sanitation and women empowerment. He has also established numerous charitable trusts that run hostels, schools, colleges and hospitals, and are engaged in renovating ancient temples.
A colourful procession was organised at the Maharaja’s College this morning as part of the grand event where cultural troupes including Veeragaase, Dollu Kunitha and Nandi Dhwaja displayed their performance. Women carrying traditional Poorna Kumbha Kalasha and Chande Maddale Mela ceremonially welcomed Dr. Heggade and other dignitaries on the Dias. Before coming on to the Dias, Dr. Heggade performed puja to Nandi Dhwaja.
Over 15,000 people from across the State attended the programme. Interestingly, several Muslims, who had availed various benefits from Dr. Heggade’s initiatives, too were part of the programme. Before the dignitaries addressed the gathering, a Panchaloha white Ganesha idol was presented to Dr. Heggade. The idol was so heavy that it had to be carried by four people.
Inaugurating the event, Mysuru District Minister G.T. Devegowda said that Dr. Heggade assumed charge as Pattadhikari at a very young age of 20 after his father Rathnavarma’s death. “Today, Dharmasthala and Dr. Veerendra Heggade are synonymous with each other. The Dharmasthala group along with its education and social service wings has done yeomen work in the society that is no less than any government machinery,” he said.
Sri Nataraja Swamiji of Gurulinga Jangamadevara Mutt, Gavadagere, Tourism Minister S.R. Mahesh, MP Pratap Simha, MLAs L. Nagendra, Yathindra Siddharamaiah, MLC Sandesh Nagaraj, President of Federation of Cooperative Societies H.V. Rajeev, Chief Executive Officer of Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Gramabhivruddhi Yojane Dr. L.H. Manjunath, former MP C.H. Vijayashankar, former MLA M.K. Somashekar, former MLC D. Madegowda and others were present.