'Alappuzhai' Uma Hariharan certainly deserves a special place in every devout Keralite’s heart for her endeavor in getting people from Tamil Nadu come here to see the splendor of our temples. Uma's books are often considered an encyclopedia of Kerala temples.
It was just a while ago that a top official of State Bank of Mysore came looking for Uma’s house in Alappuzha. He had read her books and was so inspired by their contents that he decided to come down to see the temples which she had so vividly described. The temples were exactly the same as she had described. With awe and wonder, he decided to go back, not to his work, but to retire from a hectic schedule and spent the rest of his life in meditation. He bought a whole lot of her books too. The officer is now making a round of all the temples in Kerala. He loves what he’s doing and finds a sense of fulfillment in it.
Tamil woman who tagged “Alappuzha” to her name
K.S. Uma Mahesawri was one of the eight children of a Tamil Brahmin family in Palakkad that subsequently migrated to Coimbatore. She had just about completed her Class X exam when she got married to N.P. Hariharan, a lecturer in the chemistry department of SD College, Alappuzha. Her husband, who also belonged to a Tamil Brahmin family, moved from Palakkad to Kochi and finally settled down in Alappuzha.
Uma who moved into Lakshmi Mandir, a house by the beach in Alappuzha, never had a dull moment. She cooked, wrote down recipes and started writing and very soon her literary output grew by leaps and bounds. She wrote in Tamil and got them published as Tamil books.
Her confidence too spiraled with the publication of each book. Her first book, Gayathri, expounding the divinity and importance of the Gayathri Mantra, published in 1999, sold well. Her second book, Pithruyajnam, set against the backdrop of certain incidents in her family and the funeral rites observed in Tamil Brahmin families, was published in 2004. From then on, she was the writer, publisher and seller. Profit was never on her mind. Her readers were never in want of her books which reached them regularly. If at all she charged them, they were only for covering printing costs.
From 2008 onward, she started writing about Kerala’s temples under the name “Kerala Hindu Samaya Alayangal.” Its fifth edition is all set to be published. Other books to be published were Navagrahangal in 2003 and the second edition of Pithruyajnam. Apart from this, she has a column in Athmeekalayam, a Tamil magazine, through which she popularizes Kerala’s temples.
By virtue of her writings, Uma managed to revive and breathe a new lease of life into several Kerala temples on the verge of oblivion.
She has come out with several editions of her books. She has won accolades and awards aplenty, including a prestigious one from the Kanchi Mutt. Her husband Hariharan, who retired as principal of SD College, has always been her main support.