Freemasons remove shroud of secrecy

The Times of India/November 21, 2012

Chennai - "No, we don't drink blood from skulls, chop heads, summon evil spirits or gyrate around fire sporting masks and hoods," says Balaram Biswakumar, 'Grand Master' of Freemasons India. After remaining shrouded in mystery for centuries, the sect is going all out to "demystify" itself.

"There have been various rumours surrounding our society. We've been given a demon-like image, some even identify us as 'thalaivetti sangam'. We want to break this misconception and spread awareness on the precepts of our society," says Biswakumar, a Chennai-based neurologist.

Chennai, which has nearly 1,800 Freemason members, will host the XII World Conference of Masonic Grand Lodges on November 22 and 23, the second time international event is being held in the country after the 2001 event in Delhi. The are more than 18,000 members in the country.

"This time, to coincide with the completion of 50 years of its existence, the Grand Lodge of India will host Grand Masters from more than 35 Grand Lodges (masonic communities) across the world. The theme of the conference is 'The Role of Freemasonry in Universal Peacekeeping," said Biswakumar.

Freemasonry, which originated in England, is concerned with propagating moral and spiritual values. Its members are taught its precepts by a series of rituals which follow ancient forms and customs and tools and allegorical guides. "It basically seeks to make good men better, thereby making the world a better place," said B Kamakoti, Grand Secretary.

On November 24, Mumbai-based chartered accountant Vasudev J Masurekar will be installed as the new Grand Master. "We want the world to know we are normal people. Doctors, lawyers, bureaucrats and even political figures are part of the society," said Biswakumar. Freemasons made their advent in India under the British in 1729. The society is still averse to 'initiating' members indiscriminately. A Mason has to nominate another and the name is cleared after a vote. Prerequisites for a membership include an abiding belief in the Supreme Being and having brotherly love.

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