Karthigai: A Photographer With A Green Thumb
Growing Under A Tree
Thenur is just a regular village in the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. For residents, their most revered milestone is Mahatma Gandhi’s brief touchdown in their village en route to Madurai in the summer of 1921. However non-descript, this village is home to 29-year old Karthigai, an ordinary wedding photographer who is extraordinarily inspired. To fully understand what makes him special, Karthigai recounts a turning point in his childhood when he was first taught to plant saplings in school:
“As part of Project GreenHand’s Green School Campaign, a Swami from Isha had visited my school. I was studying in the 7th standard then. He explained to us the deep relation we share with trees. I spent most of my life studying under a tree, but that day my equation with trees changed forever.” Since that day, Karthigai has gone on to singularly plant an astounding 3428 trees. “Maybe there are more, but I only kept track of 3428,” says Karthigai with amusement.
Passion for Trees Is Contagious
His profession requires him to capture memories from people’s birthdays, weddings, and retirement functions, but Karthigai adds to his clients’ memories in a unique way that makes him extremely popular. Karthigai started inspiring his clients to gift their guests a sapling. Karthigai’s unique passion for planting trees has even made him the only authorized photographer for retirement functions at the local EB office. The office just won’t have anyone else.
Anthony from the local EB office received three trees from Karthigai during his retirement function and that inspired him to start planting flowering trees in his garden. This new hobby started attracting the curiosity of children in the village and now his garden has become well-known throughout his neighbourhood.
A Baby Tree Blesses A Childless Couple
Radha and Mukunda had given up on their parental aspirations after years of trying and then they met Karthigai who urged them to raise another form of life instead: a tree. This faithful couple nurtured this tree and in a twist of destiny, the couple conceived a baby after all. The tree has grown up and they have hung a swing for the baby to rock him to sleep every day.
Editor’s Note: Anukampa offers a bird’s-eye view of the extent and reach of our outreach programs encompassing the primary needs of health, education and sustained livelihood among the rural population in Tamil Nadu. Read Anukampa 2018-19.