"I hold strongly to the view that the deeds and services of great men should be honored by public commemoration in the places where they served not only as posthumous compliments to themselves, but also an example and stimulus to others."
.......... Lord Curzon, British India
|Col. John Pennycuick's r Theni.Tamil Nadu. www.thehindu.com|
Above image: People from the town of Theni paying obeisance to Colonel John Pennycuick's by way of doing aarti. photo with saplings at Palarpatti (near Theni),Tamil Nadu
Col. John Pennycuick, Army engineer of British India during his tenure in the Madras presidency, S. India was solely responsible for completing a challenging and important dam project - Mulliperiyar dam, never taken up before across the river Periyar and diverting the westward flow of the river towards east and joining it with the Vaigai river. In the wake of successful completion of this major public works project, he helped facilitate the irrigation of 2.23 lakh acres of otherwise useless land in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu. Thanks to the generosity of the then ruler of the Princely State of Travancore who made this project a success.
|Tamil Nadu CM paying tributes to Col. Pennycuick.newindianexpress.com|
This river-diversion project was executed in the most difficult and dangerous terrain under the tough testing times with horrible financial constrains. Set his heart and mind firmly on the project and the resultant economic gain in the future for the people in the arid and rain shadow region of present Tamil Nadu, Pennycuick, finally made up his mind to sell his wife's valuable jewelry with her consent as a last resort to tide over inadequate funds he badly needed to complete complete the project.
His passion, dedication and personal sacrifices, besides his humanitarian considerations for the people living there won the heart of millions of native people in that region. No doubt the grateful people of Tamil Nadu elevated him to the level of a Demi God. Thus, the British engineer has become an immortal figure among the people of Central Tamil Nadu.
01. A stone plaque bearing Pennycuick's name is in Vadipatti, Tamil Nadu.
|John Pennycuick.Mullaiperiyar dam. www.kollytalk.com|
02. Several villages in Theni offered prayers to Pennycuick and took out processions, holding his portraits on Sunday to mark his birth anniversary.
03. The Public Works Department Office at Madurai City not only does it have a life-size bronze statue of Pennycuick erected on the premises, but also named the complex after him.
04. People of Appantirupathi village celebrate his birth anniversary with great joy and distribute sweets among the people and visitors. They had a granite portrait of Pennycuick engraved and installed it in the village.
5. ''Pongal'' or ''Sankaranthi'' is an important Hindu festival in Tamil Nadu associated with harvesting season (first half of January every year) - a sort of thanks giving festival to the mighty planet, the Sun. At several villages in Theni, Madurai and other districts, John Pennycuick is remembered during the celebration of the traditional Thai Pongal harvest festival. Villagers celebrated Col. John Pennycuick’s 171st birth anniversary by preparing Pongal in 999 pots symbolic of the number of years of lease agreement signed by the erstwhile Travancore princely state and the Madras Presidency over water sharing and construction of Mullaperiyar Dam.
06. In January, 2002 on a Sunday morning, large number of villagers from Thambinayakanpatti, Kombai, Pannaipuram in Thevaram assembled at V O C Grounds and prepared pongal in 999 pots. The dish was placed in front of a portrait of Pennycuick, as an offering before the start of the celebration. Thus a British engineer became a venerated man, a divine status among the natives who hold him in great esteem.
07. At Palarpatti near Bodi, “Thevarattam” – a folk dance – marked the beginning of the celebrations. After the celebration, the people assembled in the village community hall named after the great humane British engineer and conducted a mass prayer - a way of showing their gratitude to him who economically lifted them from impoverished conditions.
08. In some villages in Theni district, grateful people prepare 'Pongal' (a form of sweet dish) en mass in front of his portrait or statue and conduct prayer with devotion and bakthi to the British engineer.
09. At many villages, numerous families go one step further and consider him a Demi God. Not only do they keep his portrait in the puja (prayer) room but also offer prayers. They decorate the portrait with garlands and flowers and perform 'Aarthi'(a tradition of good will) before his photos. People never fail to knell or prostrate before his picture, thus elevating him to the level of God. No doubt one can see Penniquick's photos along with other Hindu Gods in many villagers' houses. Many children in villages are named after him.
10. In 2013 in the town of Theni, a bus terminus is named after Pennyquick. In many villages in this region, Public Works Department employees, people and politicians of various parties pay rich tribute to him on his birth anniversary.
No doubt that the people of Tamil Nadu, nay India owe a debt of lasting gratitude to Col. Pennycuick whose skill, sympathy, judgment and foresight left a deep mark on the British Indian history. Mr. Pennyquick has left a record behind him that marks him out not only as the most distinguished British engineer but also a great human being with true Christian spirit of love and care.
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
...... Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
''Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.''
...... Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
"New Bus Stand in Theni Named After Pennycuick". New Indian Express. 3 January 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.