“IT is not just a story of a building named ‘Devi Ahalya Mandir’. It is documentation of multifaceted activities of the ‘Rashtra Sevika Samiti’, witnessed by this building over a period of 45 years. It is a brief account of the selfless service and achievements of the countless activists of the Samiti,” remarked senior journalist, writer and former editor of Tarun Bharat, D B alias Mamasaheb Ghumre while releasing a book here recently.
Ghumre was releasing the book Mi Vaastu Ahalya Mandir Chi penned by Swati Shahane at Laxmibai Kelkar Hall, on August 6. Vandaniya Pramilatai Medhe, Pramukh Sanchalika of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, Shri Shrikant Joshi, senior RSS Pracharak and President of Devi Ahalyabai Smarak Samiti Sumantai Sarnaik prominently shared the dais with author Swati Shahane and chief guest DB Ghumre.
Ghumre appreciated the style and diction of the author which he felt was a ‘novel’ way of presenting the history of this premier organisation of Hindu women worldwide. It is the building which is the main character of this book which narrates its history and tells the story of countless selfless sevikas who toiled hard to spread the work and fulfill the mission of the Samiti in Bharat by bringing about a new awakening among the womenfolk.
This building stands witness to various events, service projects, visits of eminent personalities and programmes aimed at creating awareness amongst womenfolk regarding the cultural and social responsibilities through the activists of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti during the last 45 years, Ghumre said while appreciating the efforts of the author of the book.
He further stated that Swati Shahane, herself a journalist, has effectively narrated the various projects and service activities run by the activists of the Samiti from this building. The flagship project of the Samiti is the hostel for janajati girls from north-eastern region of Bharat. The hostel Sanghmitra Pratishthan, named after the legendary daughter of Emperor Ashok Sanghmitra, who devoted herself in spreading the message of Lord Buddha to the people of Sri Lanka, runs this hostel for the girls of north-eastern region.
Besides the Samiti also runs projects for schools for tiny tots, hostel for children of disabled leprosy patients, samskar kendras, vocational training centres, counselling centres, libraries, free tuition classes, etc. for the members of the society. Swati Shahane has effectively and beautifully narrated all these activities in her biography of the building called Ahalya Mandir.
Mi Vaastu Ahalya Mandir chi is an innovative work of the author, rich in information and tells the story of the Rashtra Sevika Samiti Ghumre said, but referred to absence of contribution of the Samiti activists in periods of crisis like 1975 Emergency, and Ayodhya Movement. He recalled how the Samiti workers braved all odds and hardships and launched the first satyagraha during 1975 Emergency and how they actively and enthusiastically participated in the Ayodhya Movement. The author should have mentioned this in this book, he suggested.
The book was released in a novel way. A replica of Ahalya Mandir was created on the dais and the chief guest opened the door and took out the book from the building itself. It was as if the building was offering the book for the release.
Author Swati Shahane narrated the contents of the book in her introductory remarks. Smita Pattarkine presented a review of the book. Vishakha Pathak compered the proceedings while Sarita Rajurkar proposed vote of thanks.