Eleven years ago, I got an opportunity to serve as SDM Pehowa, a small sub divisional town of Kurukshetra district with population of 33500 only (2001 census). The city is famous as pilgrimage consisting Prithudak Tirth where people from far and wide come to perform the last rites of their dear departed. The place is known for Saraswati river which runs East wards from here (Poorv vahini).
The very first site that I visited after joining was the Saraswati channel from the siphon side near Guhla road where the JCB had started digging the 5100 feet long channel flowing in through the town. It was strange feeling, very different, very difficult to define but every bit positive. The Pehowa Saraswati Project was mammoth task which had been started and abandoned umpteen times as it was not a government project with any provision of funds. Besides, there was challenge of huge encroachments and flow of sewerage into the Holy channel. But it was the dream and aspiration all the residents of Pehowa that the work related to saraswati mayya should be done expeditiously, essentially, on priority basis. The well meaning representatives sharing this sacred mission exhorted me to take up this project start the work (with zero balance!) and that mayya would take care of the everything!
I breathed then, for the first time, the Pehowa feeling!
The project with estimated cost of Rs. two crores and estimated time of two years started with this exclusive Pehowa feeling.
Pehowa is perfect symbol of religious and caste harmony with everyone joining in all religious 'prabhat feris' with equal fervor and enthusiasm. The tirth, too is visited by all people transcending the community and caste boundaries. Every section of the Pehowa society endorsed the project with unanimity and enthusiasm.
On the banks of Saraswati near Prachi tirth, in the scorching heat of June, Swami Gianand ji addressed the sangat exhorting them to contribute their mite in this gigantic task and at the end of the satsang handed over the offerings ('chadhaava') to me; the chief Granthi of Gurudwara Bohli sahib, the mahant of Sri Sangmeshwar Mahadev Mandir, Arunai, Baba Man Singh of Dera Sant Ishwar Singh , the Brahmin tirthodhhar sabha, the Mahants of all Akhadas and Deras that Pehowa is famous for came forward to support the cause. All the big and small social and trade associations enthusiastically participated. The individuals came forward to construct ghats, erect tubewells in memory of their ancestors. A renowned philanthropist of the area Shri Kailash bhagat ji single handedly contributed hugely for the project as it was his mission that mayya's work must be done come what may!
One fine day an old man in tatters came asking for SDM and handed tens of polythene packed remnants of langars' contributions for the peer as his mite for the mayya's project. The amount he donated thus was worth a fortune and symbolic of the Pehowa feeling!
The result was completion of the project at the cost of Rs one crore twenty five lacs in record nine months with public contribution of over seventy lacs besides the funds received from the discretionary funds of the then Ministers and the MP. The works included the concreting of both the sides after clearing of the whole length and breadth of the channel. The encroachers had voluntarily removed their unauthorized seize. No force ever had to be used for doing the needful. Thereafter, construction of the pavements, railings, pedestrian over bridges on the channel and installation of the street lights and sound system was completed. The channel started feeding the Prithudak tirth with fresh flow of water. The sewerage had been laid to stop the flow of polluting water into the channel. In the evening, hordes of women and men could be seen enjoying walk on the pavements.
Once complete, the students, girl guides, scouts, teachers painted the railings with police and administrative officials.
The work initiated by a few people became a movement and generated an electric aura.
It has been over a decade but the Pehowa feeling kindles the fire of immense positive energy. It casts a magical spell of motivation. I feel determined to get up and go, achieve the impossible, tread the paths untrodden. And when the going gets tough, the burthen of what-seems-difficult or almost-impossible, I turn to the Pehowa feeling, visit the place and the warmth and hospitality, the ever-readiness of Pehowians to join hands in whatever I propose to do makes the marching on easeful, rejuvenates me, blesses me with the aura of positivity and enthusiasm and I feel there is no room for despondency or desolation, hopelessness or dejection and the only way is the way forward and that my task is marching on!
Thanks to all the people of Pehowa who imbibe and exude the Pehowa feeling!