Who are Freemasons and why is it that we know so less about them? Though Freemasonry in India exists since 1730, not much is known about it. That is because it always shies away from publicity. Then why is this press conference? There are a few reasons.
One is Universal Brotherhood Day, which Freemasons across the country observe every year on June 24, which is around the corner.
It is during this time in the year Freemasonry liberally talks about itself, its activities.
The second reason is it is the maiden visit of Mr Anish Kumar Sharma, OSM (Order of Service to the Masonry, the highest recognition Grand Lodge of India accords to any masons in India). He is the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India. This means he is the head of Freemasonry in India. It is his maiden visit to the city in the capacity of Grand Master. He took over the mantle of this great institution last November.
The third reason is his portrait unveiling. It is the tradition, particularly in Hyderabad each time its heads change (once in three years in the case of Grand Master and Regional Grand Master and once a year in the case of Assistant Regional Grandmasters (ARGMs), it unveils their portrait). And this practice is unique to this place. So the Grand Master, the head of Freemasonry in India is in Hyderabad on the eve of unveiling his portrait, which will be unveiled by Mr. VG Madhusudan, the Regional Grand Master, Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India, He is the head of Freemasonry in South India.
Mr Anish Kumar Sharma in turn will unveil the portraits of three Assistant Regional Grand Masters--- Mr. Naresh Kumar Yadav, Mr. B. Giridhar, Mr. Sagar Gala. These are the three new Freemason leaders for Telangana who were appointed recently in March in a function held in Madurai.
Mr Naresh Kumar Yadav, Mr. B. Giridhar, and Mr. Sagar Gala are the Assistant Regional Grandmasters (ARGMs) of the 290 years old Freemasons body in the state of Telangana. They will be in office for one year. However, the term for Grand Master (the country head) and the Regional Grand Master(South India head) is three years.
The fourth reason is Divine Service. It is a unique masonic ceremony. Freemasons are also called Masons. It is the only service which is open to the public including the media. The only idea behind this is to demystify Freemasonry and to spread its beneficial influence. Lodges (in other words clubs, a primary unit in Freemasonry or a local wing) cannot conduct it on their own at any time. It is always regarded as a Grand Lodge Ceremony and can be organized only with the prior permission of the Grand Lodge invariably with the Grand Master himself, or his duly authorized Senior Grand Officer Freemasons to attend the ceremony in the regalia of their respective ranks, thus adding colour to the function.
The fifth reason is the Sesquicentennial (150 years) celebration of one of its local lodges called May Lodge No. 19. Number 19 means it is the 19th Lodge (Club) in India.
It was consecrated on 2nd May 1872. It is the oldest Lodge in the twin cities of Hyderabad. The 150 years celebration of Mayo Lodge will be held on 2nd May at Goshamahal Baradari Masonic Building (the same place where this press conference is being organised).
During this ceremony, long term service jewels will be presented to Shorabji N. Chenoy and Minoo R Pilcher for completing 60 years of membership in May Lodge. That means they have been members of this organisation for the past sixty years.
They will be bestowed with a Long Term Service (LTS) Jewel as recognition and mark of respect. 25 years LTS Jewell will be presented to Suresh Mohan Singh and G.K. Mehan.
In a superior degree called Mark Lodge,Ramdorai Manian is presented at 50 years LTS Jewel on Sunday morning.
Freemasonry has been in existence In Hyderabad, since 1810. It has 23 lodges (branches) in the twin cities of Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Warangal and Nalgonda with about 800 members.
Locally notable Freemasons include Salar Jung Bahadur, P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Sir Terrence Keys - the British Resident, Raja Venkata Ram Reddy, Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jang and Nawab Ali Yavar Jang Bahadur, who became Governors of Gujarat and Maharashtra, Bakshi Raghunath Pershad, Syed Mohd. Bilgrami, Nawab Shamsher Jung Bahadur, Meher Ali Fazil, Nawab Bashir Yar Yung, Raja Rajwant Bahadur, Syed Hali Ali.
Freemasonry is one of the world's oldest secular fraternal societies. It is a worldwide organization. It came to India in 1730 with officers of the East India Company holding their meetings in Fort William, Calcutta. Swami Vivekanand, Pandit Motilal Nehru, Rajendra Prasad, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed are some of the many prominent Indian leaders who were Freemasons
The sixth reason is an interactive session. All the local freemasons will have an interactive session with county and south India heads
The seventh reason is Gift- a-livelihood. Mayo Lodge will be presenting tools to 10 petty traders, to restart their lost livelihoods due to Covid. The ten petty traders, street vendors will be given away tools to pursue their profession
The eighth reason is to talk about the replication of "Gift-A-Livelihood”. The initiative of Freemasons of Telangana is being replicated nationally. The initiative identifies such poor traders, individual professionals like carpenters, electricians, fruits and vegetable vendors, street vendors, and women who want to work from home to earn extra financial support for family and provides them with tools and implements.
Since its beginning in August 2020, Freemasons of Telangana rolled out 6 rounds of the initiative and helped 180 people inform Mr. Naresh Kumar Yadav, Mr. B. Giridhar, Mr. Sagar Gala, the three Assistant Regional Grand Masters, the local leaders of Freemasonry.
Giving details about the organisation, Mr. Anish Kumar said, Freemasonry is a way of Life. It is a moral building society. It makes good men better.
Masonry is spread in India across 200 towns and cities. As of now, there are 440 Masonic Lodges and over 200 other Masonic bodies located in different parts of the country under the Grand Lodge of India with a total membership of about 22,000 Freemasons adds, Mr Anish Kumar.
“Hyderabad is one of the most vibrant Masonic centers in the country. Hyderabad is like a homecoming to me. I have been coming to this place for a long time”, informed Mr. VG Madhusudhan.
Braving the difficult times, Members of Freemasonry in South India have done covid related and other charities worth Rs 3crore during and immediately after covid waves said VG Madhusudan, Regional Grand Master.
Freemasonry Teaches Kindness in the home, Love for one another, Courtesy in society, Resistance towards evil, Help for the weak, pity and concern for the unfortunate, Forgiveness for the penitent, Fairness in work, Honesty in business, and above all, Reverence and Love for God. In fact, Freemasonry is a Way of Life