‘Manisha Mandir’, a home at Gomti Nagar in Lucknow, may look normal for a passerby but for orphaned and abandoned girls, it’s a place where they get unconditional motherly love and care.
Manisha Mandir- the origin
The origin of the Manisha Mandir lies in a tragic story of a mother ‘Dr Sarojini Agarwal’ losing her daughter—Manisha. She died on April 1, 1978. Sarojini recalls while trying to hold her tears, “I was blessed with two beautiful and healthy sons but desperately wanted a daughter. Later God blessed me with twins, including a daughter. I was very happy but that happiness lasted for a very short while. I lost my beloved Manisha when she was eight and a half years old in an unfortunate road accident when a vehicle hit my scooter near Hazratganj in Lucknow. Manisha, who was sitting on the backseat, had a brain haemorrhage and she died on the spot. In one moment, my life was completely shattered. I was in deep grief for months but later resolved to turn my agony into strength. I made up my mind to start a home for orphans, destitute, and abandoned girls and look where I am.”
Thus, the lady who lost her daughter 30 years ago is now mother to 800 girls. She in a way provided new meaning to the motherhood by extending it to the girls who needed it the most. Out of 800 girls she has rehabilitated, 15 are married. The only driving force perhaps was her unequivocal desire for upbringing a girl child. The same spirit has healed her motherhood scars and now she has no complaints about losing a daughter.
Manisha Mandir – today
Manisha Mandir is today home for 26 girls, some of these were found abandoned and some were given up as unwanted. Manisha Mandir differs from other orphanages in the sense that it is a true home where orphan and abandoned girls not only get shelter but also get a devoted mother who thinks about them day in and day out.
‘I just know that Mummy is my world’
For the girls of Manisha Mandir, Dr Sarojini Agarwal is everything. One of the girls Shalini Bharti said, “I don’t remember when I came here, I just know that Mummy is my world. She is the person whom I love the most. I go to school regularly. Presently, I am studying in class four; Mummy teaches us and takes care of everything related to us.”
Dr Sarojini Agarwal on importance of girls
On the issue of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Dr Agarwal opines, “Daughters are very sincere. Girls are pillars of the society. A good society needs good mothers. Unfortunately, our society treats girls as a liability but without the daughters, a society can’t be completed.” She also runs Manisha Higher Education Scholarship Programme for the meritorious girl students whose parents can’t afford to continue their education.
She says, “There are many girls who have the potential to make a mark. But circumstances do not favour them. Manisha Higher Education Scholarship Programme helps them in fulfilling their ambitions. My aim is to make helpless girls self-reliant and