New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) Grand Lodge of India, the apex body of Freemasons in the country, known for its iconic temples and lodges and arcane rituals, completed 60 years on Wednesday.
Freemasonry, an esoteric fraternity which owes its origin in the late 16th to 17th century in Scotland and England came to India through the East India Company in the early 18th century.
They are known by their most recognisable symbol of an interlaced 'square and compass', found on the facade of all Freemason's Hall.
They are one of the world's oldest secretive societies whose members included Motilal Nehru, Swami Vivekananda, JRD Tata, King George VI and George Washington among others.
Masonic temples and lodges are specimens of grand architecture and their arcane rituals have inspired much curiosity.
"After Independence, the Freemasonry system in India was reorganised. While some chose to remain with the Grand Lodge of the UK, other lodges came together to assume a new identity as the Grand Lodge of India. The consecration of GLI took place exactly 60 years ago on November 24, 1961," Vishal Bakshi, Grand Secretary, GLI, told PTI.
GLI is housed in a beautiful red-brick building in New Delhi's Janpath (Queensway during British time), the foundation stone of which was laid by then Viceroy of India Lord Willingdon on April 4, 1935.
A huge 'square and compass' symbol is embossed on the top of its facade, flanked by panels representing the 'sun' and 'moon', which stand for enlightenment in the Freemasonry.
The GLI has four administrative units -- Regional Grand Lodge of North India (RGLNI), Regional Grand Lodge of South India (RGSNI), Regional Grand Lodge of East India (RGLEI) and Regional Grand Lodge of West India (RGLWI).
Kolkata-based Ambarish Singh Roy, a Freemason and Senior Grand Warden in GLI said, in 1961, there were about 145 lodges under the GLI and the number has expanded to over 700 now.
Made famous by the bestsellers of Dan Brown like 'The Da Vinci Code', the Freemasons society commands a huge global membership and their number in India is only growing.
Their secret and elaborate rituals involve a checkered-board floor and their lodges are run well by 'Grand Masters'.
Chartered Accountant Anish Kumar Sharma (72), Regional Grand Master of RGLNI, who will be installed as the next Grand Master on November 27, planted a tree in the campus of the Freemason's Hall on Janpath to mark the diamond jubilee.
"As Freemasons, we have been serving our brothers in need through philanthropic activities. And, our biggest such contribution would be during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have lost hundreds of our members to Covid, many of whom died while serving people during the two waves," Sharma told PTI.
"Our vision is to continue to serve people," he said.
The GLI is the main governing body of Freemasonry within India. Before the establishment of its own order there were three delegations from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Grand Lodge of Ireland and Grand Lodge of England.
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