Kerala remembers the one and only Balika Sadanam on Gandhi Jayanthi Day
Kozhikode: In the heart of Kozhikode city, a historical house raised by an unsung hero of Indian history in 1942 exists. Not many have noticed this house in Eranhipalam or the specialty of this institution. VR Nayanar Balika Sadanam which became a shelter for poor orphaned girls during the times of cholera has a sacredly treated memorial in front of it. It is nothing but a memorial built to preserve a portion of the mortal remains of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.
Social reformer V R Nayanar was a believer in the motto “service to the poor is service to god”. He lived his whole life closely sticking to this thought. After World War II, Kerala was struck by a famine. People could not stand the spread of Cholera with less medical and hospital facilities. The poor Harijan families were the major victims of the disease. Nayanar, along with Aryabandu Bappu, formed volunteer groups to bury a large number of unknown dead bodies. After this calamity, many children were orphaned and when their future remained a question mark, Nayanar initiated orphanages and Balika Sadanams all over Kerala. There were 21 such institutions but only one is prevailing now.
Mahatma Gandhi was quite impressed by Nayanar who was also a follower of Gopala Krishna Gokhale, the political mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi had a strong will to meet Nayanar and live with him in this Balika Sadanam for a few days. But unfortunately, this great human, Nayanar, passed away in 1945 in his 45th age. Mahatma Gandhi did not leave his wish to live in this house for a day at least. Some wishes remain unfulfilled. When Mahatma Gandhi passed away in 1948, K Kelappan who knew about this unfulfilled wish of Gandhi, brought a portion of his mortal remains to Balika Sadanam and built a memorial for it.
Every year the week-long celebration of Gandhi Jayanti is flagged off from here. After the demise of Nayanar, the Sadanam was run successfully by his wife Kayaratt Madhaviyamma till she was 76. She had been staying there along with 54 other inmates including 59 Harijan girls. After her demise, malpractices among the authorities put an end to this shelter home and its functioning. The inmates were sent to another orphanage. Later, in 2015, the Sadanam restarted functioning led by UL Foundation, the philanthropic wing of Uralungal Labour Contract and Cooperative Society Limited upon the request of the former district collector N Prasanth IAS.
C K Hareendranath, an executive member of the Nayanar Balika Sadanam society said that many leaders like Indira Gandhi, EMS Namboodiripad and many more had visited the Sadanam and it was like a home for them. Sreejith S, one of the office-bearers shared his experience that on a fine working day in 2019, a car unexpectedly stopped at the gate. After a few minutes, the driver of the car came for an appointment to visit Sadanam. The office-bearers, even though confused, allowed them to enter. Surprisingly, the guest was Tushar Arun Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Tushar Arun Gandhi paid homage at the memorial to Gandhi and appreciated the initiatives of the foundation.
The Nayanar Balika Sadanam was re-established as UL Care Nayanar Sadanam after the undertaking by ULCCS with the support of District Administration in association with Nayanar Children’s Homes’ Society. Now, UL Foundation runs a project, the institute of vocational training and placement for adults with intellectual challenges, conceived by Kozhikode district administration.