Thirsty for knowledge on Indian culture and Hinduism?

Perhaps you should head to Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, where a public library within a temple, containing over 1,000 books in both Tamil and English, await you.

The Star spoke to lawyer Puspanathan Sellam, who set up the library in the Sri Mariamman Temple in Rasah, last October, and has been busy every weekends since, sorting the books according to genre and author.

"It’s been a painstaking process to meticulously categorise books and magazines on Hinduism and Indian culture, both in English and Tamil.

"Thankfully, I have Maheswary Palaniyandi, a retired librarian from the National Library of Malaysia, to help me with the arduous task. She’s been doing a fantastic job of it, pro bono, ” the 67-year-old reportedly told the daily in a phone interview, recently.

According to Puspanathan, he was inspired to start the library as there are many conflicting views among Hindus on rites, mantras and prayers, and thus, he felt the need to disseminate knowledge to the Indian community.

"Without the right information, the wrong remains wrong, generation after generation, without any clarification and rectification. As such, authoritative books would best serve the purpose (of righting the wrong)."

The books in the library, most of which are brought in from India (due to the lack of authoritative local writers on the subject), date back between 50 and 100 years, said the report.

Besides Hinduism, the library also contains literature on Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Christianity, and Islam. Puspanathan forked out his own money for the book racks, chairs, and tables, while the books were donated by well-wishers.

The availability of books in English will also help the younger generation who are keen to learn about Indian culture and Hinduism, but are unable to read Tamil, said Puspanathan, who also the temple's trustee and secretary.

Although officially set up in October, the library only opened its doors to the public in May, due to restrictions under the Movement Control Order (MCO).

It is open from 9am to 1pm on weekends, for now.

Puspanathan currently runs the library with the help of his wife and three sons, and is currently looking for volunteers to assist him, so that it can be opened on weekdays too.

The lawyer cum librarian plans to hold a soft launch of the library on the last day of Navaratri in October, and also wants to install a digital flat screen display in the library, to attract the younger generation.

Source: The Star
Photo source: The Star