Hyderabad, November 20, 2023…. Hyderabad to host Grand Festival 23, the 293-year-old Freemason Organisation’s meeting. It will be held on November 25th and 26th at Imperial Gardens in Secunderabad. It is the annual gathering of Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of India. It is hosted by the Freemasons of Telangana. It is the city’s first ever grand festival in the 62 years history of Grand Lodge of India.

The event is also being clubbed with another landmark milestone – the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the Supreme Grand Chapter of India.

1200 plus Freemasons from across India and abroad are expected to participate in the Grand Festival. Delegates from several different Grand Lodges of countries such as the United Kingdom, Scotland, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Russia, Mauritius and others are expected to participate.

It is a historical moment as the Grand Festival is being held in Hyderabad for the first time in the 62-year history of the Grand Lodge of India. Grand Lodge is the apex body of Freemasons in India, which was formed in 1961. Freemasonry traces its roots in India in the early years of the 18th century. In 1730 officers of the East India Company held their meetings in Fort William in Calcutta. Hence it is a historical moment all the Freemasons in Telangana should be proud of, said Mr Anish Kumar Sharma, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of India. Anish Kumar Sharma is the head of Freemasonry in India.

The local freemasons are organising the “9th leg of Gift-a-Livelihood”, a charity initiative to support talented, hardworking, poor but who lack the right tools for the job by providing tools necessary to discharge their professional duties on 24th November where 50 poor street vendors, pretty traders, self-employed, women doing business from home etc. The initiative of local masons, ‘Gift-a-Livelihood’ because of its impact to the society, it is replicated across India.

Freemasonry is a Moral-building organization, A.K. Sharma added. It teaches values and makes good men better. It teaches values such as Brotherly Love, Relief, Truth, Faith, Hope, Charity, Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence, Justice, Virtue, Honour, Mercy, Wisdom, Strength, Beauty, Secrecy, Fidelity, Obedience, Courtesy, Benevolence, Gratitude, Duty, Kindness, Affability and many more.

Hyderabad has another unique distinction. It has the oldest building “Goshamahal Baradari Masonic Building’, which Freemasons in Hyderabad use as their meeting place. It is the oldest building used as a Masonic Temple in India. The meeting place of freemasons is called as Masonic Temple, Grand Master Anish Kumar Sharma said.

Freemasonry is a way of life Anish Kumar added while interacting with the media. When asked to comment on how he would like to make the organization more relevant to the present generation, since most of its members are old people, Sharma said, things are changing. We have a good mix of old and new members. We need both. We don’t solicit members. But we can get more and more youth and millennials joining us.

People have their reasons why they enjoy Freemasonry, Anish Kumar said. Many come for the brotherhood, for others it is self-improvement. Freemasonry is an ocean. You can learn many things –brotherhood, charity, education, values, discipline, character building, knowledge etc. In one word, it offers a journey of personal discovery. Its preachings appeal to all generations, he said and added that more and more millennials are becoming Masons.

Low moral values are creating unrest and turmoil in our society. Honest are struggling and facing hardships. When moral values are fading and there is a fast decline in moral values in these times, Freemasonry makes a lot of difference to society and creates a lot of impacts. 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.

Grand Lodge of India (GLI) is the parent body of over 22,000 Freemasons in the country. There are masonic lodges (Branches or units) in over 160 cities across the country. Members of the fraternity address each other as ‘brothers’, and only the Grand Master has the title of ‘Most Worshipful’, according to the norms of Freemasonry.

GLI is the main governing body of Freemasonry within India.

The Freemasons fraternity counts industrialists, bankers, engineers, media professionals, chartered accountants, and lawyers, among others from across the country, as its members.

Nationally the Masonic Fraternity is involved in several charitable projects. The General Williams Masonic Polyclinic and a Masonic Public School in Delhi, as well as a Masonic Medical care centre for children in Coimbatore; Construction of Sheds for cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh.

Under the “Jyothirgamaya Project” 110 remote and inaccessible villages in the country were provided Solar Lights etc., which are examples of some of the socially relevant activities of Masonic organizations all over the country. This project is highly talked about the project in the country. Most remote villages are electrified under this project.

They are one of the world’s oldest secretive societies whose members included Motilal Nehru, Vivekananda, JRD Tata, King George VI and George Washington, among others.

Freemasonry is a very unique organization. It is a very silent organisation. 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. Hyderabad is one of the most vibrant Masonic Centres in India. Freemasons of this region rose to the occasion during the pandemic and ran some most impactful service activities to society.

It is today known for its 3 initiatives—Covid Relief during the first spell of Covid, a novel initiative ‘Project Bun”, a Bun-Banana-Biscuit distribution initiative and Gift-a-Livelihood, an initiative to help petty traders with tools required to re-start their livelihood that was lost during the Covid as well as to earn sustained living. During this COVID, the Freemasons of Telangana reached out to the masses through their two-month-long COVID-19 Relief Activities. Charity is an integral part of every Freemasons.

Freemasons practice what they are taught. Projects worth Rs 40 lakhs were executed during the covid. Telangana tops among the 180 plus Lodges (Clubs) in South India in COVID Relief Work.

Locally masons organise Walk for Values, occasionally to propagate moral values.

Notable local Freemasons in the past and present 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.

By Sujata