REMEMBERING MRS. THURAISINGAM

REMEMBERING MRS. THURAISINGAM

Mrs. Mary Celine Thuraisingam

15 April 1921 – 5 January 1994

Perhaps history would remember her best, among others, for her firmness in the Faith, boundless love for the Blessed Beauty, lofty ideals in life and intrepid courage in teaching the Cause with an unbridled passion.

Mary Celine Nagaretnam, born in mid-April 1921, was a staunch Roman Catholic by birth and grew up a church-going devotee. She lived with her family on a rubber estate that her father owned in Raub, a small town in the state of Pahang, West Malaysia. At the age of 19, she went to work in Kuala Lipis, a small town close by, as a nurse. It was in this town that she met Robert Thuraisingam who was a Hospital Assistant in the same hospital where she worked. They were married on 25 January 1941, during the days of the Second World War when the Japanese occupied the then Malaya. Mrs. Thuraisingam resigned from her nursing job that same year when her eldest daughter Elizabeth was born. Her years following were filled with caring for the children as a home-maker.


Hospital Assistant Mr. Robert Thuraisingam married a Nurse Mary Celine Thuraisingam.

In 1952, Robert Thuraisingam was transferred to work at the Dispensary in Fraser’s Hill, a hill resort in the same state of Pahang. He remained there till December 1953. As there was no English medium school at that time and so he had to send his three school-going children, Elizabeth, Alice and Francis to live with his sister in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. In January 1954, he was transferred to the Dispensary in the town of Temerloh in Pahang. The doctor would come to Temorloh only once a week and it was Mr. Thuraisingam, though a Hospital Assistant acted in the capacity of a doctor, dispensing medication and providing treatment. By this time, Mr. and Mrs. Thuraisingam and their fifteen children – Elizabeth, Alice, Francis, Mary, Catherine, Anne, Anthony, Margaret, Philomena, Joseph, Jasinta, Theresa, Agnes, Florence, and Peter lived in spacious government quarters that came with Robert Thuraisingam’s position.


With her husband, five children and brother Dr. Poobalasingam, 1949


With her 14 children during Christmas 1963. Missing is Anthony and the photographer Mr. Robert Thuraisingam.

Mrs. Thuraisingam, as a devout Roman Catholic would go to church on Sundays without fail. She had always been a religious person. They all lived a fairly comfortable life when on Monday, 13 January 1964, the fate of the family was reversed when Robert Thuraisingam suddenly and most unexpectedly passed away. Mrs. Thuraisingam was totally devastated. Her only comfort and consolation was her wholehearted faith and complete reliance in Christ, and with that, Mrs. Thuraisingam managed to continue on with life. Until her children grew up to start working she was the actual muscle in the family in the throes of sufferings and ably shepherded her children for many years. Among the daily difficulties was washing with her bare hands four buckets of clothes of her 15 children.

With her husband’s passing, her family had no more privileges and was forced to move out of their spacious government quarters and rented house number 4 in Lucky Garden in Temerloh town for a year. While living there the rubber estate opposite was cleared for housing development and she bought house number A1 in the year 1966 with the gratuity and her savings.  Later the house number 8 was for sale and the contractor requested Mrs. Thuraisingam to buy it. When she replied that she did not have that much money with her, the housing developer, knowing of her dire situation requested a mere RM 2,000 as deposit and the rest to be settled through monthly installments of RM100, with no interest charged. The deposit was paid by Dr. Poobalasingam, the younger brother of Mrs. Thuraisingam. Her life now had become a mammoth struggle. Fortunately, two of her brothers Dr. Poobalasingam and Thillaiampalam helped her financially and they were her only lifelines. Sadly there was another brother who was intellectually challenged since birth and he was brought in under her. But with her magnanimous heart, she provided him all the care that he needed.

Circumstances forced Mrs. Thuraisingam to be very frugal, but never stingy. All her children were accustomed to hardship from their childhood days and it turned out to have polished their lives so well. Mrs. Thurasingam made sure these virtues of thriftiness to manage under the difficult circumstance was instilled in all her children. She taught them cooking even at young age and they all grew to be good at the kitchen as they grew up. She planted her own vegetables in the backyard, reared goats and chickens, and sold eggs and meat to raise money for daily expenses and for the education of her children.

Mrs. Thuraisingam learned much ahead of time all about what the current generation calls “recycling”. Water that was used for washing vegetables and meat was channeled to water the plants in her garden. Empty Horlicks and Nescafe bottles were used for the storage of kitchen items. It was a moving moment, when after her passing – despite such better circumstances, small amounts of ringgit were found tucked into a recycled coffee bottle in the kitchen in her home in Petaling Jaya. With great initiative and grueling work, she also catered meals for some school teachers in the neighborhood for additional income.

To cut every possible corner, her children were instructed to consume only home-cooked food. To them, pocket money for school was an unheard-of luxury. Her children took bread from home to consume during recess in school. The older children took on many of the daily chores and housework. Baby-sitting became second nature to them. All their clothes were stitched by their mother. She was a powerhouse of hard work and discipline. Despite all the toilsome daily routine, she always made time to pray with the family. As Roman Catholics, the family would kneel before the altar in their home and pray every night after dinner. She taught her children to read the Holy Bible before they started attending school.

While her strong faith in the ever helping hand of God was her great consolation, she was led to see the Light of the Age. It was Divine Providence that she had to become a Bahá’í. She came to learn about the Bahá’í Faith through her eldest son Francis Satkunasingam, popularly known as Francis Singam, or “Fred” among his closest friends. Francis was the President of the Catholic Society at the Technical College of Kuala Lumpur in 1966. He was introduced to the Faith by the late Captain Choo Yeok Boon, a firm Bahá’í from Alor Star, who was already a student there and who set up the Kuala Lumpur Technical College  Bahá’í Society. Being a staunch Christian and occupying the position of President of the Catholic Society in the School, Francis was a difficult person to convince. But the Faith certainly provoked his interest and he became a sincere searcher of truth. After questioning Yeok Boon endlessly and then reading the book Kitáb-i-Íqán, Francis accepted the Faith. Then unfolded a turn of dramatic events. Upon accepting the Faith, Francis immediately resigned as the President of the Catholic Society, to the consternation of many of his fellow Christians. What was happening? As the President of the Catholic Society, Francis was on the main reception committee when His Right Reverend Bishop Vendargon paid their College a visit sometime earlier. Upon learning that Francis had embraced the Bahá’í Faith, His Right Reverend Bishop Vendargon called upon Francis to seek an explanation and get him. To revert to Christianity. But by this time Francis was already a convinced believer who truly and firmly believed of the Return of Christ with the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. Francis had an answer to all the Bishop’s questions and the Bishop found it hopeless to pursue the matter any further.


Eldest son Francis Singam, himself firm as a rock in the Cause.

The excited Francis first introduced the Faith to his mother’s younger brother  Francis P. Thilliampalam, who also accepted the Faith. The next was the most tricky and difficult task for Francis. He had to give the Faith to his mother which was as walking on a razor’s edge. Francis summoned all his energies and courage and introduced the Faith to his mother. He brought to her the tape-recorded talks that the Hand of the Cause of God Abu’l-Qásim Faizi had delivered at the First South-East Asia Bahá’í Regional Youth Conference held in Kuala Lumpur from 21-24 December 1968. On hearing of the name “Bahá’í”, she immediately commented that this was an anti-Christ religion from a false prophet, and nothing but the wolf in the sheep’s clothing. On hearing a few names of the key figures of the Bahá’í Faith, starting with Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdul-Bahá she also saw the Bahá’í Faith as a sect of Islam. Her immediate instructions to Francis were clear-she told her son sternly to stop bringing the Muslim religion into her home. Francis employed a very wise approach in his attempt to help his mother understand. He told the mother, “I have a delicious cake, ma, and all I want is you to partake of a piece as well.” So, she patiently listened fully to the talk of Mr. Faizi. Francis then turned to quote from the Holy Bible – verses, dear and familiar to his mother’s faithful heart – about the return of Christ. He urged his mother to read the book “The Thief in the Night” by Hand of the Cause of God William Sears. Francis resorted to prayers beseeching God to open his mother’s eyes to the truth of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh. Finally, Mrs. Thuraisingam consented to read the book, but with a rosary in one hand for unquestioning guidance and protection. As she progressed through the book, she discovered for herself explanations to the return of Christ which were so different and yet such completely plausible. It did not take long before quotations from the Holy Bible resonated with her heart and the prophecies fulfilled with the coming of Bahá’u’lláh reached the depths of her soul. What a coincidence! It was at this time also that Mrs. Thuraisingam was attending Bible study classes that focused on the subject of the return of Christ. The talks of Mr. Faizi and the book “The Thief in the Night” came as an answer to her prayers. She became convinced of the truth of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh and accepted the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’u’lláh’s mighty Hand had touched this human gem in an unremarkable little town, as He Himself promises, “By the righteousness of the one true God! If one speck of a jewel be lost and buried beneath a mountain of stones and lie hidden beyond the seven seas, the Hand of Omnipotence will assuredly reveal it in this day, pure and cleansed from dross.”

Until the time of her acceptance of the Faith, she went to church on Sundays. When Mrs. Thuraisingam accepted the message of Bahá’u’lláh, she was so convinced and firm in her belief that she paid a visit to the priest of her church, told him of her decision that she would henceforth cease attending church. What courage must she have had to do this! The priest said that she had been converted by some devil, a response only to be expected. Mrs. Thuraisingam, a widow and a single mother of a large brood of children, with very little material means to her name, stood her ground. The priest then took up the matter with Bishop Vendargon based in Kuala Lumpur, who made a special trip all the way to Temerloh. When he came, Mrs. Thuraisingam gave him a Bahá’í book and said, “Father, if you find anything wrong with this religion I will renounce the Faith.” The Bishop then left, and much later admitted to her that he could not find anything wrong with the Bahá’í Faith. That was a victory for her. On the other hand, sadly, and unsurprisingly as so often is the case, she faced resistance and condemnation from other quarters – her relatives and friends. Some of them mocked her decision, but since she was clear of the path that she had chosen she refused to be elbowed out. Undeterred by the growing tumult and unrestrained by all these earthly advice and admonitions, she continued to soldier on with her newfound path, practicing the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith every single day of her life.

From the day she accepted the Bahá’í Faith, she was hungry for knowledge. Every night she would read any Bahá’í books, magazines, and newsletters she could get her hands on. It did not take long before the spiritual institutions and several individuals came to learn of the coming into the Faith by this dynamic family, especially the firmness showed when faced with much opposition. Support also poured in from all directions. Several Bahá’ís including Mr. and Mrs. Lily Chinniah and Mr. S. Ravichandran from Kuala Lumpur,  Mr. V. Theenathayalu and Mr. T. Thanabalan from Petaling Jaya, and Mr. Isaac D’Cruz from Seremban were among those who came over to visit her family in Temerloh in their teaching trips to the East Coast. Each week there was someone coming all the way from Kuala Lumpur to the state of Pahang for teaching activities and visiting her home in Temerloh was part of the schedule. Coupled with the books she had been reading, such visits increased her knowledge of the Faith through the discussions she had with them. She was also able to see a sincere and unprejudiced fellowship among them, hitherto unfamiliar. After becoming a Bahá’í, she read the Holy Quran for the first time,  and she attempted to get a deeper knowledge of other religions as well.

Soon after accepting the Faith she was immersed into reciting prayers meant for various occasions. When she came across the statement by Bahá’u’lláh on the Long Obligatory Prayers which read:  “In truth, it hath been revealed in such wise that if it be recited to a rock, that rock would stir and speak forth; and if it be recited to a mountain, that mountain would move and flow. Well is it with the one who reciteth it and fulfilleth God’s precepts,”  she made every effort to recite this prayer, that involved a series of body positions and movements. But  in later years,  her knees were beginning to act up, and she was having some challenges with performing prostrations for this prayer. And her advice to the youngsters was to say this prayer even when they are young, strong and healthy, as a time would come when their knees would not cooperate. She is even reported to have said, what is the purpose having  knees which refuse to bend down in humility before our creator. That was one regret as she advanced in age.

The one believer who took special interest far ahead of any others was Mr. Sivasathiyaseelan Nadarajah (N. S .S. Silan) who was a family friend while he was residing in Temerloh. Silan was also a schoolmate of Francis Singam and some of his siblings at the Abu Bakar School in Temerloh. Silan who was working in the Inland Revenue Department in Kuala Lumpur  made several trips to  Temerloh for his official work. In those trips he never failed to visit this family.  He had also  undertaken visits on behalf of the National Teaching Committee. In August 1970, when on the National Teaching Committee he took along his colleague  Jeffrey Choon Dr. Sydney I. Deanand his wife Isabelle Dean,  visiting Bahá’ís from abroad and dropped into the home of Mrs. Thuraisingam on their way further to the East Coast of Malaysia. In this visit, Mrs. Thuraisingam arranged a fireside for 25 people. In this visit her son Anthony and daughter Philomena accepted the Faith. Over the next few years, of her 15 children 6 became Bahá’ís in stages – Francis, Anthony, and Philomena first, followed by Jasinta, Theresa and Florence.

Mrs. Thuraisingam was always highly focused and dedicated herself completely to the Faith. She consulted with her children and with their support, opened her home to travel teachers coming to Temerloh. With that several travel teachers came to Temerloh, stayed with them and carried out teaching work in the area. Mrs. Thuraisingam gave every freedom to her children in the choice of their beliefs, and never coerced them into the Faith. The other children who did not accept the Faith were very supportive of the Faith. She used to repeat everything she read on the Faith to all her children and always kept telling her children that the Bahá’í Faith was the answer. Her daughters who did not accept the Faith did not hesitate to say the “Remover of Difficulties” and “Tablet of Ahmad” prayers in times of difficulties. Mrs. Thuraisingam would set a high standard in her children which her children passed on to their own children – grandchildren of Mrs. Thuraisingam.

Mrs. Thuraisingam strove to create a full Bahá’í environment in her family. Each month she would set aside some money for the funds to be contributed at the Feast. It was with the balance in hand that she would budget for the month. For her, contribution to the funds was the priority. She was generous in contributing to the Bahá’í funds until the last days. When six of her children had accepted the Faith, she encouraged them to memorize as many prayers as possible, always instilling in all the children love and fear of God. Whoever was able to memorize a prayer, was given a reward of $0.10 for each prayer, which was a big sum in the 1970s. She gave more for memorizing the Tablet of Ahmad!

In 1975, Mrs. Thuraisingam moved her family to Petaling Jaya for better educational opportunities for her children and stayed in a rented house. When Mr. Thuraisingam was alive, he took an insurance policy under the name of his son Joseph. When Joseph turned 21 the insurance matured, and Mrs. Thuraisinam used the returns of that insurance policy together with proceeds from the sale of a piece of land she had inherited to buy her own house in Petaling Jaya.

While in Petaling Jaya this family became actively involved in the local Bahá’í activities. When they first moved into Petaling Jaya, they did not have their own car, and it was among others, the late Mr. S. Ravichandran, Thanabalan and T. K. Lee, who give transport for this family in the early days. The community saw in her a boundless love and passion she had for teaching the Cause. She made it a point to talk about the Faith to everyone she met – postman, meter readers, and even salesmen, by often inviting them for a cup of tea. She was also very actively involved in the activities that were planned by the Local Spiritual Assembly. When the Dawn Prayers were initiated as a community activity, her house was one of the venues for this activity. She used to get up early in the morning to prepare a sumptuous breakfast for the Bahá’ís and made sure they ate well and was especially appreciated for her most delicious thosai (Indian rice flour pancakes). Her house was likewise open for the breaking of fasts in the fasting month. Mrs. Thuraisingam faithfully obeyed the Law of Fasting, and even past age 70 continued to fast. Her house became a center of gatherings for those believers residing nearby. It was usually dinner, followed by discussions on the Faith.


Frying curry puffs for the 21st birthday of her youngest daughter Florence. The hand that fed many believers in the community.

Knowing the deep knowledge of Mrs. Thuraisingam had of the teachings, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya requested her to give a talk on the subject of the Covenant on the occasion of the Day of Covenant. Having done wide reading on the subject, she spoke with an erudition that belied her age, to the awe of the listeners.

The international Bahá’í Teaching conference held in Hong Kong in November 1976, was the first international conference she attended, in the company of her son Francis. There she was able to mingle with over 600 believers from 39 countries and could see further shreds of evidence of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh in uniting mankind. The talks by the three Hands of the Cause of God present – `Alí-Akbar Furútan, Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir, and Mr. Collis Featherston created a deep impact on her. Back in Malaysia she never missed talks by Hands of the Cause who visited the country.

Some Malaysian believers at the International Teaching Conference, Hong Kong, 1976.  Squatting   L-R: Giam Chin Chye, Jimmy Seow, Bernard Ong, Krishnamurthy, Sathia Narayan aka Arun Balaji. Bending in middle row L-R: M. Shanmugam, A. Ayahkannu, Vaithilingam, Chua Teik Wee. Back row  L-R- Susie Wong, Thilaga Naidu, Mrs. Thuraisingam,  S. Nagaratnam, Kumara Das, Inbum Chinniah, Manmohan Singh, Soon Poh Lee.

International Teaching Conference, Hong Kong, 1976 graced by the presence of three Hands of the Cause of God – Dr. Muhájir, Mr.`Alí-Akbar Furútan, and Mr. Collis Featherstone – seated in the centre. Francis Singam is seated at the extreme left. Mrs. Thuriasingam stands fifth from the right and partly hidden.

Observing that Mrs. Thuraisingam had become a good fieldworker, in 1977, Mr. S. Nagaratnam, at that time a member of the  Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia requested her to teach in the estates in the northern state of Kedah. That was a time when she was a busy mother and a grandmother. Heeding to the call she requested her older daughters to take care of the younger ones and went off to teach the Faith in the estates for a period of one month. Each day she went from house to house teaching the Faith to the families in the estates. Mr. Muniappan who organised her trip to one Patani Para Estate mentions she met the Bahá’ís and inspired especially the ladies to serve with greater vigor. Mrs. Indrani Arputhaseelan who organised her visit to the Kilang Lama Estate recalls how easily she adapted to a very simple accommodation and basic hospitality in her estate quarters. Mrs. Indrani further mentions that her neatly dressed appearance was an attraction among the estate women to whom she gave the Faith in fluent Tamil language. In the Harvard Process Estate, where she stayed in the house of one Mr. P.S.Vijayan she had visited each house and delivered the message and gave convincing answers to all their questions. It was while she was in the teaching field in Kedah that her daughter Alice gave birth to her third child in Kuantan. It was the custom of the time for elders in the family to take care of the newborn infants and when the family called her to come back, she came back to Kuantan for a week to attend to the newborn and went back to Kedah again to continue the teaching service that she had committed for one month. Mr. Nagaratnam was very pleased with her fieldwork. Likewise, Mrs. Thuraisingam adored him for his complete dedication to the Faith. Although he was younger to her, she still addressed him as “Uncle Naga” as done by the youngsters. Mr. Nagaratnam requested her to address him as “Naga” but she would not. Having made that request to her, Mr. Nagaratnam himself addressed the younger Mrs. Thuraisingam as “Aunty.”

Mrs. Thuraisingam had harbored a strong desire to take the Faith to foreign countries as well. The opportunity to teach the Cause in Sri Lanka came at the end of 1977. She first attended the Asian Bahá’í Women’s Conference held in New Delhi, India from 13 to 16 October 1977, in the company of seven Malaysian Bahá’í ladies. A total of 3,000 participants were there. At the end of the Conference, Hand of the Cause of God Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum laid the foundation stone of the Mother Temple of the Indian Sub-continent. All the participants were provided with bus transport to witness this historical event. Following the conference, Mrs. Kumari Lechumanan and her friends travelled by train to Chennai in Tamil Nadu to participate in the South India Teaching Project. Mrs. Thuraisingam too travelled with them to Chennai. Kumari and her friends invited her to join them in the South India Teaching Project. But she replied, “I am going to Sri Lanka to meet all my relatives and I want to give them the message of Bahá’u’lláh and wake them up.” The ladies were surprised that Mrs. Thuraisingam decided to go alone, at that age to Sri Lanka to deliver the message of Bahá’u’lláh.

From Chennai city in Tamil Nadu, Mrs. Thuraisingam went as a travel teacher to Sri Lanka in 1977, funding the entire trip with her own savings. And that was her first trip to Sri Lanka and undertaken with full confidence in the helping hands of Bahá’u’lláh.  When she arrived in Sri Lanka, the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly had written to a few friends to arrange her activities. She did not have the comfort that she had in Malaysia, but having been accustomed to rural teaching in Malaysia, she just fitted in so well to the simple environment. Part of her teaching schedule included staying in a small town called Peradeniya with Mr. Ian Richard Bayly, an Australian student pioneer to Sri Lanka who had just married a local believer by name of Mona in November 1977. Ian was also an Auxiliary Board Member for Protection. The couple  were serving as home front pioneers in Peradeniya. They had a tiny upstairs apartment with just a few pieces of furniture, a water tank with a water pipe bringing water only about one hour per day. They had no refrigerator and Mona would cook on a single burner kerosene stove. But Mrs. Thuraisingam just fitted in so well and stayed with them for one week like a visiting aunty. Ian was at that time pursuing a geography degree at Peradeniya University just on the outskirts of Kandy and he often took Mrs. Thuraisingam for visiting the friends in different places to hold firesides and conduct deepening classes. On a few occasions Ian took Mrs. Thuraisingam  on his little 100 cc Honda motorcycle, something she had not been used to before. The local believers in Peradeniya were inspired by her knowledge of the Faith and her fluency in the Tamil language. Ian and Mona also took her to visit the town of Nawalapitiya and there met a Malay Bahá’í family. The head of that family was a railway station master. Ian, his wife Mona and his father in law M. Anwer Cadir  and  Mr. Roberts,  local believer took  her by bus to visit the Greenwood Estate near Nawalapitiya in the Hill Country. Mona used to conduct Bahá’í children classes there, and Mrs. Thuraisingam was taken to the estate to talk to the parents of the children about the Faith.  Alighting from the bus they  had to walk quite far downhill through the tea bushes to the line houses where the friends lived.  Although the local believers were worried if Mrs. Thuraisingam would be able to manage the distance downhill and climb up again in the very rough pathways she was so happy that she was oblivious to the difficulties faced.  What an indomitable spirit she demonstrated.


Ian Richard Bayly and his wife Mona with whom Mrs. Thuraisingam stayed for one week.


Walking  downhill to the line houses. Mrs. Thuraisingam is the lady in saree. Mona is  the lady furthest down the trail with a pack on her back. (Photo Courtesy: Bayly Family Archives) 

Mrs. Thuraisingam also met the Bahá’ís in Kandy and took the Faith to her relatives and friends. When she was in Sri Lanka, she was exposed to a completely new and unknown lifestyle and she coped very with the very basic public buses, walking long distances along simple paths in the estates and managing with the very primitive situations of the estate line houses where Bahá’í families were living. She rode on the rough auto-rickshaws and was exposed to unhygienic sanitation. Life was not easy for Mrs. Thuraisingam who had had a fairly comfortable lifestyle while in Malaysia. In the six months, she lost some 25 kilograms, while all her 6 pairs of slippers were totally worn out from continuous walking. In Malaysia, she began her life as a nurse by profession and always gave importance to cleanliness. It was simply amazing to see how she managed to cope up with the hard life in Sri Lanka. Yet upon her return, she told her children that she was most happy as she could experience minutiae of the hardship that Bahá’u’lláh Himself had gone through. Her relatives, especially her sisters were upset that she had left her children and gone for a considerably long period. Yet they did express that they could not figure out how she was able to undergo all those sacrifices. Her children, on the other hand, were very proud that their mother had loved and served Bahá’u’lláh so well in a very difficult environment.

Back in Malaysia, she was on fire with the love for Bahá’u’lláh. She missed no opportunity to be involved in Bahá’í activities. At the Kuantan Summer School held in July 1978, where Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhajir was present, she gave a short talk on her experiences in teaching in the estates. It was reported that Dr. Muhajir was deeply impressed with her services undertaken in a rural area by one who did not come from a culture where middle-aged women did things like this.


Summer School in Kuantan, 1978. Sharing her experiences in field teaching in Sri Lanka and the estates in Malaysia.

In October 1979, her son Francis married Usha Cheryan according to  Bahá’í rites at the  Jaya Puri Hotel in Petaling Jaya. That was the first Bahá’í wedding in the family. It is interesting to learn of the spiritual role she played as a grandmother in the family of Francis. When Benjamin, Francis’ older son was born on 14 September 1981 in the town of Kuantan, Mrs. Thuraisingam remarked that while she already had several other grandchildren, Benjamin was quite special since he was born to Bahá’í parents and became the first Bahá’í grandchild. Benjamin memorized the Bahá’í children’s book ‘The Story of Badi’ at a very young age. Mrs. Thuraisingam liked nothing better than to hear him ‘recite’ the story to her!


With her eldest son Francis Singam and eldest daughter-in-law Usha Singam.

While Mrs. Thuraisingam was carrying out her duties as a grandmother, mother, and mother-in-law,  she was always yearning for opportunities to teach the Faith. She went to the town of Raub when Francis’ second son, Jonathan was born on 29 August 1983. Mrs. Thuraisingam also had in her luggage, several books and pamphlets on the Bahá’í Faith. While the mother and child were resting in the afternoon Mrs. Thuraisingam invited the neighbors over for tea and talked about the Faith in her simple, beautiful and perfect Tamil. It was amazing how she could organize her time so well and have all the energy during those days when she had so much to do, preparing special meals for the young mother and helping with the newborn. She also fully encouraged family prayers. Every night, Mrs. Thuraisingam, Francis and Usha said prayers in the company of the two infant boys during those brief days she stayed with them. When leaving Raub, she told Francis and Usha to continue the family prayers, which they carried out. During a holiday, when her grandchildren of varying ages gathered in the home of Mrs. Thuraisingam in Petaling Jaya, she requested Usha to round up all the children, and teach them some Bahá’í prayers and share stories from the Faith. This was to be followed by questions on what had been taught and the answers were usually spot on. The happy Mrs. Thuraisingam’s incentive for her grandchildren was a reward with coins from her purse!

She always felt that people were wasting their time with trivial and ephemeral matters. One night in her home in Petaling Jaya, Francis turned on the television to watch a live telecast of a very exciting soccer match between two strong soccer-playing nations. Mrs. Thuraisingam, casting her eyes on the screen filled with enthusiastic screaming  fans  remarked, “So many thousands will go to watch men running around a ball, but could they not be persuaded to attend a Fireside?”

With her good command of the Tamil language, Mrs. Thuraisingam had a soft spot for Bahá’í gatherings held in the Tamil language. She did not miss any gathering for the Tamil speaking friends. At a Summer School held in Malacca in 1985, the Tamil speaking group had a discussion on the newly introduced subject of socio-economic projects. She came forward and spoke to the friends gathered there, on how to rear chickens and make home-baked bread. All her previous skills were being polished, perfected and passed on into services for the Faith.

One of her moving moments was going through the spiritualization institute by Jack Davis in 1989.  When the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Malaysia invited representatives from various communities to come down to the National Bahá’í Center in Kuala Lumpur on 28 May 1992 for a prayer vigil throughout the night to observe the centenary of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh, Mrs. Thuraisingam represented the Petaling Jaya community.

When Mrs. Thuraisingam accepted the Faith she was orchestrated from the orthodox Ceylonese community she came from. That was the time inter-marriages  were vehemently opposed and condemned by her community. But having understood the spirit of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, she gave her children the fullest freedom to chose spouses of their choice. And it turned out that the following of her children married outside the Ceylonese community:  married outside the Ceylonese community were Francis Satkunasingam, Anthony, Mary, Alice, Agnes and Florence. Towards the end of her life, the very community that had opposed her belief in Bahá’u’lláh, in stages came to understand and respect her. Within the Bahá’í community she earned a special name and respect for the firmness she demonstrated in the Cause and the relentless force with which she served the Cause.


Last wedding in the family – that of Agnes in 1989. Mrs. Thuraisingam (seated fourth from right) was a proud mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother in her family – and a mother like figure for many in the Malaysian Bahá’í community.

Despite undergoing untold sufferings since her husband passed away in 1964, Mrs. Thuraisingam weathered the storm. Yet trials and tribulations kept visiting her in different shapes and shades. Four of her family members whom she loved very much passed away most unexpectedly ahead of her, and left her totally devastated. Her intellectually handicapped brother whom she had taken under her care passsed away first. Francis Satkunasingam her eldest son in whom she derived so much strength passed away on 23 July 1985 following an open-heart operation. Then came another blow when her second son, Anthony Singam who passed away on 25  May 1991 of aneurysm, just three days after his first and the only daughter was born. Yet one more blow came when her younger brother Francis P. Thillaiampalam who had been her strength from the time of the passing of her husband, suddenly died on 3 June 1993.  Although circumstances were bitter, Mrs. Thuraisingam carried on with life, completely resigned to the will of God and aligning her life with this, her favorite verse, “Armed with the power of Thy Name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart, all the worlds afflictions can in no wise alarm me.”

In 1993 the study circles based on the Ruhi books were gaining momentum in Malaysia and Mrs. Thuraisingam was one of the earliest participants.  She went through Ruhi Book One which provided passages on life after death. Upon completing that book, she told her children she was ready for death. She further remarked that she was happy to have accepted the Faith served to the best of her ability. At the same time, she also expressed her regret which was that she wished she heard about the Faith earlier.

Mrs. Thuraisingam passed away one evening on Wednesday, 5 January 1994 of a massive heart attack while in the midst of preparing the meal for the night. She was living in her own house and  looking after Sheida Durairaj, the 5 month old daughter of Florence, the youngest daughter of Mrs. Thuraisingam. Sheida  was on the bouncing net while Mrs. Thuraisingam was making dough for cooking chapati for dinner, when she suddenly passed away of massive heart attack. The neighbors heard Sheida crying for almost an hour. Agnes,  another daughter of Mrs. Thuraisingam came after work and found her mother had passed away. Paul, husband of  Florence came  after work to pick up Sheida, and found Mrs. Thuraisingam had passed away. She was rushed to the University Hospital in an ambulance, to follow procedures. By the time her remains were returned to her house, a large crowd had gathered with sorrowful hearts and wet eyes. She was laid to rest at the Bahá’í Memorial Park in Seremban the following day following a befitting funeral service.


Mrs. Thurasingam with baby Sheida Durairaj. Photo taken one month before her passing.

Thus came to an end an exemplary life of a maidservant who, from the moment she accepted the Faith. She was an amazingly strong soul, who had unshakable faith in Bahá’u’lláh – that enabled her to perform extraordinary services for the Faith she loved. Her life was an example of how an elderly lady with so many family responsibilities and commitments – was able to find the time and serve the Cause tirelessly. Perhaps history would remember her best, among others, for her firmness in the Faith, boundless love for the Blessed Beauty, lofty ideals in life and intrepid courage in teaching the Cause with an unbridled passion.  And certainly, no believer who had associated with her can truthfully ignore any thinking on her indelible services for the Cause.

A. Manisegaran
USA
30 April 2020

Copyright@bahairecollections.com

 

60 thoughts on “REMEMBERING MRS. THURAISINGAM

  1. Mrs. Thuraisingam was an outstanding woman, who can be regarded as a great stalwart of the Faith in Malaysia. Among other Bahais of Catholic background includes Betty Bensen. At that age to accept Baha’u’llah and still withhold all the tests,and face the pressure from the Church clergy and friends, and continue to move on in serving the Cause with much dedication is indeed outstanding.

    At the early days of the Technical College of Kuala Lumpur, I went for the orientation Tea Party organized by the Bahá’í Society in the College. Francis Singam walks in, and we were school mates in Temerloh. Francis who had not accepted the Faith at that time tells me, “You are also into this Bahá’í thing I suppose. It is so convincing.” Later I met him with Choo Yeok Book, who was the founding member of the Kuala Lumpur Technical College Bahá’í Society and one who had given the Faith to many in that College, at the home of Betty and Tony Fernandez in Petaling Jaya. Francis has declared by this time. Choo Yeok Boon had infused the spirit of ‘Teaching’ into Francis and Francis never missed an opportunity.

    I knew Mrs.Thuraisingam and family from 1958. We were all in Temerloh. Mrs.Thuraisingam was a family friend and my family knew her from the early days in Kuala Lipis, Raub, and Temerloh- all small towns in the state of Pahang. When she declared as a Bahá’í, it was a talk among the Jaffna Tamil community. Mrs.Thuraisingam’s declaration came as a shock to everyone. She accepted the Faith and was a devoted believer. When my mother died, she came for the devotional gathering and said prayers. When invited to partake in the incense offering, she politely told the host that she is a Bahá’í and will not do this part of the ceremony.

    Once when I went to Kuala Lumpur for a holiday, I visited the family and Mrs.Thuraisingam was away in Sri Lanka on a teaching trip.The children missed her and gave me a ‘shelling’ as to why their mother has to go pioneering while there are so many other people around. But it was much later that they realized that her mother had made the family proud of earning appreciations for her services to the Cause.

    A humble person who offered to Baha’u’llah in its purest form, service.

    N.S.S. Silan
    Australia

  2. Brother Manisegaran
    THIS IS THE BEST RIDVAN GIFT

    What more can I say? What a touching and moving story. Mrs. Thuraisingam is yet one more hidden gem among the servants of the Blessed Beauty that had lived in our time. What an amazing life this staunch and vibrant soul had led. With so many family commitments and being a single mother she could find time to be a strong field worker of the Faith. I really loved her burning spirit to go to Sri Lanka and teach her relatives, which she did so sacrificially. What a passion she has had for teaching the Cause. My only question is how come such sincere stalwarts were never highlighted in the community. I wish I had met her in person to hear from her own mouth of all her teaching stories. I will certainly make a visit to her resting place in my next visit to Malaysia to offer special prayers for her soul to rest in eternal peace. These are the true servants that need to be remembered, adored and admired.

    The Malaysian Bahá’í history is enlightened, brought to life and preserved by such stories written with authority and accuracy given the dates and events and supported by rare photographs.

    My sincere appreciation to the author who has brought out such an awesome story. It’s a truly delightful gift for me during this Ridvan period. I hope the author who has already several books to his credit would consider- seriously compiling these stories into a series of books.

    Gratitude forever.
    Nehru Arunasalam.
    CHICAGO
    USA

  3. Thank you dear Mani for your beautiful write up about my Mum. Thank you for your patience and perseverance in gathering all the information – and mostly your precious time and effort in writing the tribute for my Mum. She would be really touched. I am told you had wanted her to say the first prayer for your wedding which she did. She loved you like her own son.

    We children have always wished one of the children or grandchildren would have had the talent to write a book about the life of my Mum, but unfortunately to date, no one has come close, other than you. So thank you once again.

    Agnes Thuraisingam
    Sydney
    Australia

  4. Dear Manisegaran
    You have written about Mrs. Thuraisingam who was close to me and so dear to my heart. I was privileged to have been in the community of Petaling Jaya in which she too lived. When she moved into this community, I was serving as an Auxiliary Board Member, and my duty was, among others to give encouragement to the believers in the path of service to the Cause. But let me admit in all honesty and humility that I found it quite difficult to extend the same kind of advice, guidance or encouragement to Mrs. Thuraisingam. She was in a different plane altogether, moving at an unbelievable speed, devotion and commitment. She was seen at almost all activities I attended. I used to return home, thinking to myself that I should do more for the Cause. She was one of my motivators. May her pure soul rest in eternal peace in the blissful heavenly kingdom of God.

    Dr. M.M. Sreenivasan
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  5. This is a very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing of wonderful this story.
    May God bless for her soul in Abha Kingdom.

    Happy Ridvan to all !
    Chosin Abdullah
    Jakarta
    Indonesia

  6. I am so happy that we in the USA get to read about the wonderful, devoted Baha’is in other countries.

    It was an inspiration to read about Mrs. Thuraisingam’s service to the Cause of Bahaullah.

    Belinda Hill
    USA

  7. This is truly a touching story on Mrs. Thuraisingam whom I had known personally.

    After accepting the Faith she indeed became a pillar of spiritual strength not only to her family but to everyone who crossed her path. I was introduced to this pure soul by her eldest son Francis Singam with whom I became close while living in a small town called Jerantut in the state of Pahang. He took me to his mother’s house located in Temerloh town some 45 minutes drive from Jerantut for firesides,deepening classes and teaching trips. Her home was the center of activities for Baha’is in that region. Mrs. Thuraisingam also attended the first Summer School held in Kuantan town in the East Coast in 1978 where the late Hands of the Cause Dr Muhajir and a number of prominent Baha’is were present. I was sitting in the front row beside her for the group photograph.

    Mrs. Thuraisingam was a great inspiration and stayed firm and promoted the Cause of Baha’u’llah until her last days. Her service can never be forgotten. And her salient services are now recorded forever in this blog. Thanks Manisegaran.

    Kunja Balan
    Kuala Lumpur

  8. This is truly a moving story. It is amazing how such a staunch Catholic accepted the Faith after full investigation. She had such an enthusiasm and burning desire to serve Bahaullah, in spite of so much commitment to her 15 children to take care of. She even went to Sri Lanka to spread the teachings of Bahaullah in difficult circumstances. I missed her and do regret for not meeting her in person.

    Of certain, she will be richly blessed and rewarded in Abha-Kingdom

    Gurubalan Kuppusamy
    Ipoh
    Malaysia

  9. Dear Mani,
    You have written so well about Aunty Thuraisingam’s life . She was an inspiration to many. I used to enjoy go teaching trip with her. She was ever ready and very enthusiastic to share the message of Bahaullah. We used to fondly call her “Aunty T” and loved to go her house for morning prayers and enjoy her delicious breakfast.
    She was such a warm and lovable Aunty to me and so dear to my husband T.K. Lee and and our children. Our prayers for the progress of her radiant soul.

    Parvaneh Lee
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  10. This is an amazing history of a dynamic person. A faithful and dedicated handmaiden in the Immortal Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.

    Muthusamy
    Batu Pahat
    Malaysia

  11. Thanks again, Mani for this wonderful story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. I finished reading it in one go as it was so interesting and inspiring.
    I never got to know her personally, but I knew her son Anthony when he was newly married to Veronica, as we were staying opposite each other in SS2 section in Petaling Jaya.

    It was after reading your story that I have come to realize what a great soul she had been and what a personality I had missed. Such are the souls the Bahá’í community and the world at large needs to make this world a better place

    Ho Shih Li
    Kuala Lumpur

  12. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you for the story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. I did not have any opportunity to get to know her in person. I met her only once before going to a conference in Singapore at the end of 1977. After that I left to South India for pioneering.

    But I had been hearing from friends about her dedication in serving Baha’u’llah. With reading your detailed story I am able to gain a deeper understanding of how great a stalwart she has been. She has truly made us all proud through her services and a high standard she had set. Her children would have every reason to be happy with their mother.

    She is sure to be forever remembered in history, and you have recorded her life history with details
    Zak Muniandy
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  13. O My God! What a story! What a great person Mrs. Thuraisingam has been. In the outside world she would be called an “Iron lady” but we would term her “an immovable mountain in her faith.” She was undoubtedly a devoted servant of God. God will surely bless her soul and her generation of children. Thank you for sharing. I will surely share her story with friends and family.

    G. Perimal
    Adelaide
    AUSTRALIA

  14. Manisegaran
    Thanks for the story. I have met her a number of times when she came to visit us in the town of Jerantut where I was living with my wife. She was a great soul, and was instrumental creating a truly Baha’i environment and spirit in her family. Hers is a story of how a single mother could almost single-handedly overcome all odds in life and rise high above to bring up her 15 children and still find time to serve the Cause.

    Proud to have known her.

    G.K. Balan
    Kuala Lumpur

  15. Manisegaran,
    I was greatly moved by the extraordinary life of this Handmaid of Bahaullah and all the sacrifices she made once she had accepted the Cause. Her firm stand in the face of opposition raising a large family after the passing away of her husband shows her extraordinary faith and devotion. Had she decided to come for the South India Project instead of going to Sri Lanka in 1977, I would have had the chance to meet her as I was serving on the State Teaching Committee of Tamilnadu in 1977 and had the privilege of selecting the accommodation of the Sulur Camp with Dr. Sree Ganesh.

    Her having won the appreciation of Mr. Nagaratnam for her field work speaks volumes. May I thank you for your excellent and detailed coverage of her service to the Cause.

    The Malaysian Bahá’í Community is greatly appreciated the world over for the very many spiritual giants they have produced.

    Thank you dear Mani for keeping alive the memories of these stalwarts of the Faith.

    Alex Jacob
    Seychelles

  16. The story of Mrs. Thurainsingam has made an indelible impression on me. I feel so moved that I want to be part of the Baha’i fellowship.

    Khoeli Pholosi
    SOUTH AFRICA

  17. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,
    REMEMBERING MRS. THURAISINGAM – is again another eye opener to me and perhaps to many others in my generation. I Had heard of this name long back but did not get sufficient information until your story was published. To my surprise she had played such a heroic role in promoting the Cause of Bahaullah even under difficult circumstances. She was so committed in serving the Cause within Malaysia and in Sri Lanka even as a mother of 15 children. She certainly had placed her priorities right. These are the hidden workers of the Cause who were seldom highlighted, thanks to your write up! It was indeed a very inspiring account of her life. Will remember her in my prayers. My prayers are also there for you to continue writing such moving accounts. You have covered many souls who have left their legacies behind. Hope you will continue to unearth details of yet unsung heroes and heroines.

    Thank you.
    R. Gopal
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  18. Brother Manisegaran
    That was really a very touching and inspiring story. Thank you so much for connecting my generation of believers with those who have ascended before us after leaving their rich legacies behind.

    The story was so inspiring that I read it with one go. She had really suffered so much in her life and God has rewarded her by bringing her into the Faith. And in the Faith she has done so much. What touched me most was her ability to balance her life between bringing up their children and serving the Cause- without neglecting each other.

    Mrs. Thuraisingam is an example for many single-mothers.

    Thank you
    Meganathan
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  19. Thank you for sharing the story of Mrs. Thuraisingam an early believer of the Faith. Just could not stop reading this beautiful, inspiring story. This is a great story to be shared with friends.

    May Baha’u’llah showers His abounded blessings on this devoted servant.

    Forogh Hajijafar
    Perth
    Australia

  20. What for a beautiful person she was! It is so precious Uncle Manisegaran that you are putting so much efforts to collect and preserve the stories of these remarkable souls.
    Thank you!

    Sarah Furutan
    Germany

  21. Dear Brother Mani
    That was an excellent write up on our beloved one and the only Aunty Thuraisingam. Some youths in Petaling Jaya community especially those from Chinese background could not pronounce her name properly and they lovingly and simply called her “Aunty ‘T’. Some even quietly called her the “Mother Theresa of Petaling Jaya” for her warm hospitality and the commitment with which she served. She was seen in every community activity.

    I was on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya during the 1980s until her unexpected and sudden passing in 1994. I observed she had complete obedience to the institutions and often reminded the friends to do likewise. Despite her old age she had the audacity and complete trust in Bahaullah to travel to Sri Lanka to give the healing message of Bahaullah. She lived during the eventful times of Project 10,000 believers (1989) , Project 1,000 Chinese believers (1990), Jack Davis Institute (1989) etc.

    Aunty T will assuredly be there in the forefront of activities. She never failed to attend all Feasts, Holy Days, Winter or Summer Schools, very often sitting right in the front row with a note book jotting down as the speakers gave their talks.

    I had never seen her taking any emergency leave or getting sick. She was so versatile that her resilience would shame the younger friends. This was perhaps due to years of hardship bringing up 15 children, she could not afford to get sick ! The trend continued when serving the Cause until her frail heart could not take it anymore in that fateful day in 1994. She became the familiar face of Petaling Jaya for more than 10 years. Her memory will last forever in my heart as I was privileged to have moved closely with her.

    Lum Weng Hoe
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  22. Dear Mani
    My wife Maureen and I read your article on Aunty Thuraisingam with the greatest interest. It is very well written, precise and easy to understand too. The choice of the right words and the good command of the language and the unique flow you as an author employed makes all the difference.

    I first befriended her eldest son Francis Singam when he was in Kuala Lumpur. It was he who told me that his mother in Temerloh had accepted the Faith and his face was glowing when he told me that. He requested me to pay her a visit when I could. Since I was serving on the National Teaching Committee of Malaysia, I had reason to make trips to the East Coast, and in a few of those trips I dropped into her home in Temerloh. She was so happy to see me and welcomed me with a motherly love- and incident that is permanently engraved in the inner corner of my heart.

    When she moved into the Petaling Jaya community where I resided, we became family friends and visited her often at her residence. All our visits to her house ended up with sumptuous meals which she cooked. I can easily say there was no believer who had entered and left her house without partaking of her warm hospitality and meals. Her daughters inherited the same virtues of her mother. They were always in the forefront of activities and were an asset to the fast growing Petaling Jaya community.

    I could see her burning desire to be involved in community affairs and activities. There was no activity where she was missing. Her passion for teaching was beyond description in simple words. She moved like an orb of fire, something I had never witnessed in an elderly lady of her age. She became a motherly figure for all, radiating a sincere love to all who came across her.

    There is perhaps one untold story that I would like to share here. Mrs. Thuraisingam had written her will some years ago, by which after her passing, the proceeds from the sale of her property should be divided into 15 plus one- 15 for her 15 children and one more to the National Bahá’í Fund. Francis Singam and Mary were the trustees. With Francis passing away earlier, the task fell upon Mary to execute her will. When Mrs. Thuraisingam passed away her property was sold and the proceeds divided as desired. The shares of Francis and Anthony who had passed away ahead of her still went to their widowed spouses. This shows the boundless love she had for the glorious Cause of the Blessed Beauty. In all honesty I am yet to come across any other story of this kind. As I pen this episode I am truly moved to tears. She has perhaps eclipsed several others in setting such a rare example!

    The vacuum created by her departure, to my humble mind is still left unfilled.

    Thank you dear Manisegaran for sharing.

    T. Thanabalan and Maureen
    Petaling Jaya
    Malaysia

  23. Thank you very much Mani for this article on Mom. Our family is truly grateful to you for keeping her memory alive.

    On the 15th of April this year, she turned 98 and we had a Devotional via Zoom with family in Malaysia, Sydney and Melbourne.

    Mom was an incredibly strong lady. She instilled precious core values in us which we have passed on to our kids. We had very little growing up yet we were satisfied. I remember my mother- in – law asking Paul what my mom would say if she knew he was giving me a thali with chain that cost only RM 1500, which by the way, was chosen by me. I informed my mother-in-law that my mom would not care about the value of the chain around my neck. Instead, she would just want him to keep me happy. Mom had 11 daughters and 4 sons. Her focus was to feed, educate, and teach us to be caring human beings.

    We had absolute faith in her prayers. I used to ask Mom to pray for me before an important meeting and I would walk in to the presentation room feeling confident that all would be well. I trust all my sisters felt the same too.

    Mom opened the door to everyone who came knocking, from salesmen to Jehovah witnesses, in spite of us warning her not to. She would sit them down, serve them tea and teach them the Faith. She told us that since she wasn’t going out to meet people, that was the only way she could teach. Her biggest regret in life was that she hadn’t heard about the Baha’i Faith earlier for she could have done more.

    Personally, with our migration to Melbourne, buying a cafe, having issues with our visa etc etc, we have had our fair share of difficulties. My 80-year-old Australian neighbors asked me how I was coping. Anyone else would have had a breakdown by now but thanks to Mom, it’s in our genes to be resilient. Mom is our hero and our strength. My problems are nothing compared to what she has endured.
    Love you Ma.

    Florence Thuraisingam
    Melbourne
    Australia

  24. Dear Manisegaran
    Thank you very much for the article on my mother, Mrs. Thuraisingam. Though she is in our prayers and thoughts constantly, your article brought back lovely memories.

    My mother imparted her knowledge, attitude and skills to us so that we are well equipped to deal with any situation that comes our way. She instilled in us spirituality, to be compassionate, to do our best in everything and to manage within our means. To us she was an incredible person.

    Thank you again.
    Theresa Thuraisingam
    Melbourne

  25. Dear Mani.
    Thank you for the touching article on my mother. In spite of much hardship, struggles and sacrifices, she stood strong and did her best for her children.

    When l saw Amma laid in the coffin, I told myself her work on earth is done. She needed to rest in the arms of The Lord. Never complained of any body aches or pain. Always wanting to do and care for others. Always so gentle, caring and loving. I am so glad I had some happy memorable days with Amma in Bukit Mertajam when I was so happy to have her to myself. Took her to visit the mother of Dr. Sreenivasan, Remy and Sam who were staying in Butterworth. and a few other friends. She was always interested in teaching the Faith to everyone she met. This was during the fasting month. I tried fasting with her but could not sustain. So proud of mom’s dedication and devotion.

    Amma was great, GOD gave her strength to carry on in spite of all the struggles. We are so Blessed to have our Amma.

    Catherine Thuraisingam
    Melbourne

  26. Mani
    Thank you for the remarkable mini biography about our lovely mother, Mrs. Mary Celine Thuraisingam. Will be forever grateful for the amount of time, sweat and sacrifice you would have poured into this detailed article.

    Your sharing brought back memories of her experiences after her ventures to various cities, states, towns and estates. She was an excellent storyteller and we were her ardent listeners. I cannot remember meeting you, however I do know and have met many other Bahá’ís at mum’s various occasions at her home in Petaling Jaya.

    You have written so beautifully and intensely about her new-found Faith which I honestly believed at one time, had robbed me of my mother. For you see, I felt she was in a mad kind of frenzy to only either talk about the Faith or read her many Bahá’í books whereas I had wanted to spend more quality time and just longed for the attention of before, from her. There was a profound change in her and she was deeply immersed in the Faith. I missed her enormously when I excitedly returned home to Petaling Jaya with my family during the school holidays only to find her gone either to Summer School or some other state to do her teaching. Nevertheless, I soon learnt to be unselfish and listened patiently to her repeated stories about Bahá’u’lláh, the Bab, the second coming of Christ etc. It took me some time to understand what she stood for in accepting the Bahai Faith and I respected her decision and admired her greatly for the services she had rendered.

    My mother played multiple roles. She was our Bible teacher at home, friend, confidante, counselor, a master chef to go to, a doctor and most of all she was someone whom we looked up to and went to, in times of need. No words can describe her. She really toiled, sacrificed and scrimped to fend for us without a word of complaint. Each time we were about to deliver our babies, she was there with us to help cook, and care for both mother and baby. That was unconditional love indeed.

    Once, shortly before her passing, she told me that she longed to give some money to someone but she was fearful that we, her children, wouldn’t be pleased as she would be robbing us of our inheritance. She had never divulged the identity of that person but years later it dawned to me that surely that particular person must have been the Bahai Funds. Thankfully, soon after her passing we made a donation to the Bahai Funds as rightly desired by mum.

    Fondest memories of her will always linger in our minds. Nothing she has done for us is forgotten- instead they are cherished. We firmly believe that she has found rest and everlasting peace in The Lord’s bosom.
    Mary Thuraisingam

  27. Thank you, Mani, for this touching write-up of my mother-in-law.

    I first set eyes on this magnificent lady, Mrs. Thuraisingam, when I visited the family with three of her relatives in 1971.
    The next occasion, was to ask Mrs. Thuraisngam, for her daughter’s hand in marriage. The solemn occasion was a mutually agreed consent and her blessing was the beginning of my friendship with my dearest friend, unty, mother-in-law and mother, Mrs. Thuraisingam.

    There are numerous accounts in the 23 years she was physically present in my life that would prove to be a mammoth of a task to put into words for the purpose of a response to Mani’s account. Let me encapsulate a few.

    On living life and getting by happily with the barest necessities, she remarked that, “*If you don’t have salt, then eat without salt*.” These philosophical words are entrenched in my life and I have lived 74 years by being a lender and not a borrower. I have prescribed this tablet to many friends and specifically to fresh graduates who were on the threshold of the employment arena.

    When a few of her children and relatives passed on into the Glory of the Abha Kingdom, she would always request me to prepare a eulogy. I would humbly oblige. There was an occasion when she told me, “*You don’t know, Sam, what it is like to see your children go before you.*” I teared at those words.

    My most memorable moments with my dear Mother-in-law were when, during a holiday break in 1972, I took her on a field trip to visit her relatives in Kuala Lumpur and the state of Johor. We talked and I had the privilege to listen and learn from all the challenges she had endured as a single mother.
    She praised and thanked God for His everlasting love and care for ensuring that she was able to fend for her family of fifteen children.

    Being a Sri Lankan family, her constant prayer was to see her eleven daughters meet and marry the men of their choice because of the issue of certain customs and traditions. In retrospect, I must say that God has indeed answered and blessed her immensely.

    The week-long trip will be a treasured memory for me as our conversation touched on varied topics. My relationship took on a different level too and my love for her grew and has never vaporized.

    She has been a mentor and the epitome of Baháʼí values and her life experiences continue to be a topic I can resonate with my peers and future generations.

    Mother Theresa said, “The good you do today, will often be forgotten by tomorrow: Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough: Give your best anyway”. Mrs. Thuraisingam did just that in her life as a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, a friend and a pioneer in propagating the Baháʼí Faith to the world.

    I am proud and privileged to be blessed by this Lady of Substance, my dearest Mother-in-law, Mrs. Thurasingam. God bless her soul in eternal peace in the Abha Kingdom.

    Dr. Sebastian Koren

  28. Humbled by the selflessness and pure spirit of my much loved late mother in law, Mrs. Thuraisingam.
    May you be blessed eternally dear Mother- thank you for your loving kindness to me always.

    Usha Cheryan
    Melbourne

  29. Dear Mr. Mani
    Thank you for the story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. I read it and found it most inspiring. I am sure many others belonging to my generation would see a good example in the life she led. She is a perfect example of selfless service, always putting the Faith above anything else. Mrs. Thuraisingam is indeed a good reminder to reflect on one’s dedication to the Cause.

    Naveen Raj
    Subang Jaya

  30. My Dear Mani
    I must congratulate you again for this wonderful Chronicle on Mrs. Thuraisingam. Once again you have written a most inspiring story, as always.

    You must have done so much research on her life as evidenced by the details you have provided. The children and relatives of Mrs. Thuraisingam would be happy that someone outside the family has written so well, and paying glowing tribute to her.
    I knew Mrs. Thuraisingam as a very generous person, but it was my late husband Inbum who knew her better as they used to meet often. She too liked Inbum a lot. Both of them had a lot to discuss, mostly about the Bahai Faith. I feel Inbum was one of those who deepened Mrs. Thuraisingam on the Bahai Faith besides her eldest son, Francis. But most important was she was a seeker . She read a lot on the Bahai Faith on her own. Whenever Inbum and I went to the town of Raub, Mrs. Thuraisingam would slaughter a chicken and cook a delicious meal for us. I remember how sad she was when Inbum passed away. As she entered my house, she saw Inbum in the coffin and asked me, “Lily, What happened?” and both of us sobbed.

    As I was reading the Chronicle on her life, I wanted to cry. I really don’t know how she survived! I remember she has 15 children. How she brought them up on her meager income, God alone knows. But all her children never went hungry. They always had enough to eat!

    Mani, I remember both Mrs. Thuraisingam and I read prayers for your wedding. She read the first prayer- in the Tamil language and I read in English. You had wanted both of us to read prayers.

    May the memory of the immortal Mrs. Thuraisingam live forever in our hearts and in the midst of the current and future generation of Bahais.

    You have again outdone yourself Mani!

    Lily Chinniah
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  31. Dear Brother Manisegaran
    Thank you so much for the story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. It was really inspiring to read her story, especially to learn about her devotion and how she reflected the Bahai Faith in whatever she did in her life. The way she upheld the Faith so devotedly under all trials and tribulations was truly admirable. I was most touched to read her statement, “What is the use of knees if they are unable to bend in humility to the creator?” That came as a personal lesson to me. What a noble way of looking at the spiritual obligation with regard to even the inability of the limbs to conform with it.

    One other aspect that inspired me is the service at the grassroots and the sacrifices she make in the path of His service. And you depicted it very well. I met Florence Thuraisingam some years back in Butterworth but never knew that she belonged to this illustrious family.

    It appears that she had made Bahaullah the center of her life. Her very being was animated by the Bahai spirit. Her life has many messages and she had led a great life for multitudes to emulate.

    Sanggaran
    Sungei Petani
    Malaysia

  32. Thank you so much Mani, for sharing my Mum’s legacy. So beautifully written and very touching.

    When my son Lionel was diagnosed with acute mild epilepsy at a very young age of 6 months, Amma took on the burden too. She prayed for him and was troubled each time my husband Alfred and I had to rush Lionel to the Pediatric Neurologist in Kuala Lumpur all the way from the town of Kuala Kubu Baru.

    On the day Amma passed away, I gave Lionel who was 8 and half years old his epileptic medication at 6 pm and with much faith told him “from today you don’t need any medicine since Ammama has healed you.”

    When Amma’s body was in the hall, I kept on praying for her help and since that day I stopped all his medication. Two years later an EEG confirmed that he is cured. My advice to my family is “Pray to Amma for help as she is always there.”

    Amma, despite your dark roller coasting, difficult life on planet Earth, you stayed strong in faith and stood tall. You have taught me valuable lessons to do the same.
    Thank you Amma, now you are crowned in Heaven.

    Margaret Thuraisingam
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  33. Dear Manisegaran

    I read your wonderful story on Mrs. Thuraisingan not once, but twice. It was very informative and inspiring. At the outset I must say she was a true stalwart who occupies a special place in our history. This story is worthy of reflection. She has left so many rich lessons for the present generation and generations to come to emulate. It is very difficult to find in our community one who is parallel to the life she had led. Her entire life has been nothing but suffering and in the suffering she demonstrated so much firmness and strength. Any single mother in her state would have been torn apart. It is clear that it was her faith in God that had enabled her to sail on in life.Each of her action and activity is worth in every way. What is clear is her passion for teaching.

    I had accepted the Faith coming from the Catholic background. I have known of a few other Bahai ladies from the Catholic background during my time who had accepted the Faith after full investigation of the Faith. And they all had remained very strong. Mrs. Thuraisingam was one of them.

    I remember during a Summer School, perhaps in 1984, held in Malacca, there was a panel session relating to Bahai Faith in relation to Biblical prophecies. Mrs. Thuraisingam and I were placed on stage to answer questions from the floor. Questions poured in from the floor and we answered them to the best of our understanding. What surprised me most was her knowledge on Bible especially on the return of Christ. All her answers were quoted from what Bahaullah and Abdul Baha had written, especially from the books Kitab-i-Iqan and Some Answered Questions. It dawned upon me that she had understood both Christianity and the Bahai Faith so well. As the panel session was going on, I was sitting on the stage and admiring her giving concise answers taken from the texts. It also dawned upon me that she is one of those unsung heroines of the Faith.

    Mani, you have done justice to the Faith and the history in bringing to the fore the story of this immortal heroine of the Faith. These are the souls who have added fragrance to the community and made the Faith proud. We need more of such stories to come from your penmanship, which God has given you.

    Anthony. C. Louis
    Malacca
    Malaysia

  34. Manisegaran,
    Thank you for the story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. Surely, Mrs. Thuraisingam is in the company of the angels in the other world. She did not hesitate to give her new found Faith to all she met. Age did not trouble her nor the ill-
    feelings of her relatives towards her belief. That she gave full freedom to her children to chose their beliefs, and likewise the children respecting their mother for what she had chosen as her belief speak volumes of this noble and laudable family.

    She carried out to the best of her ability, the teaching work, for the Cause she fell in love with. She was a soldier indeed, in God’s Army. To me, the best way to epitomize her service and dedication to the Faith would be to quote the Writings as I see she had lived in accordance to the Teachings.

    “O ye My soldiers of the Kingdom! Be ye valiant and fearless! Day by day add to your spiritual victories. Be ye not disturbed by the constant assaults of the enemies. Attack ye like unto the roaring lions. Have no thought of yourselves, for the invisible armies of the Kingdom are fighting on your side. Enter ye the battlefield with the confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Know ye of a certainty that the powers of the of the Kingdom of Abhá are with you. The hosts of the heaven of Truth are with you. The cool breezes of the Paradise of Abhá are wafting over your heated brows. Not for a moment are ye alone. Not for a second are ye left to yourselves. The beauty of Abhá is with you. The Glorious God is with you. The King of Kings is with you.”

    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 13, no. 5 (August
    1922), page 113

    Some words of consolation from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: excerpts from a prayer for the departed.

    “O Thou Kind Lord! This dearly cherished maidservant was attracted to Thee, and through reflection and discernment longed to attain Thy presence and enter Thy realms. With tearful eyes she fixed her gaze n the Kingdom of Mysteries. Many a night she spent in deep communion with Thee, and many a day she lived in intimate remembrance of Thee. At every morn she was mindful of Thee, and at every eve she centered her thoughts upon Thee. Like unto a singing nightingale she chanted Thy sacred verses, and like unto a mirror she sought to reflect Thy light.”

    I shall always remember this not to be forgotten handmaiden of God. She is sure to be remembered by her Creator for making mention of Him on this earthly plane.

    Kamachee Martel
    Lesotho
    Africa

  35. I was in the same community with Aunty Thuraisingam in Petaliing Jaya in late 1980’s. She was an active person in the community. She had never been absent for any activities in the community. She appeared strict, but when you approach ed her she would be seen as a very loving soul. She had set an example as an active and vibrant lady. Age was never a hurdle for her to serve the Faith.

    May her soul rest in peace.

    Rajamma Marappan
    Kuala Lumpur

  36. Dear Manisekaran
    Words cannot express the gratitude for your work about my mother.
    My mother was a star. She taught me everything I know. She was an excellent seamstress, never went to the hairdresser and never had a facial. The best thing she said to me when I had my first child was, now you have attained the highest station ie MOTHER. I used her lessons to bring up my children.

    When she took her flight to the spiritual realm at the age of 72 she looked radiant, energetic and spiritually magnificent.

    Jasinta Thuraisingam
    Melbourne
    Australia

  37. Dear Manisegaran
    I acknowledge your sincere gesture in writing the life history of my late mother in law Mrs. Thuraisingam. The in-depth details that you have provided has given me a better understanding of who she was. The story has really touched me so much. I am aware of her her pains and sufferings, of which you have well described with greater details. She was always determined to teach the Faith even till the evening of her life. I always remember her firmness in the Faith.

    Last but not least, your wonderful and dedicated write up has given me and opportunity to share with my daughter of the grandmother that she has missed. This story of yours will that has appeared in fullness will surely keep the memory of my mother in law very much alive in the family and the wider world.

    Veronica Lim
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  38. Dear Mani,
    Thank you for writing on dear Auntie Thuraisingam that other friends who have not crossed her path may learn of her challenges and struggles.

    As a youth then I had the privilege to associate with her. I was told that the children school uniform was placed under thin mattress the night before for the children to sleep on (clothes were pressed in this manner) and donned them for school the following morning. Time for her was so precious and limited – she alone and singly, had to look after an extraordinarily large family, caring and managing their needs.

    She was a fastidious lady. So steeped in her habits that, one of her idiosyncrasies, she would not share her cup or saucer with others much less with strangers. Imagine, in her travel teaching trips to villages in Malaysia and later in Sri Lanka, she had to undergo tremendous adjustment just to accepting from humble hosts food and drinks in cutlery used by unknown. She had to sleep at times on floor of homes of these poor villagers. Her life since then was never the same.

    She bore silently with fortitude the loss of her sons and brother. It did not diminish her efforts to continue serving the Faith she loved so well.

    One’s spiritual development and education, in no small measure, is shaped and influenced by lives of dedicated believers. I am so grateful to have met and associated with my dear Auntie Thuraisingam.

    Lee Tiew Kiang (T.K.LEE)
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  39. Dear Manisegaran,
    Thank you for remembering and writing an article about my beloved grandmother, Mrs Thuraisingam. This remarkable person is my beloved grandmother or better known as Ammama to her grandchildren. I am the eldest son of Elizabeth, my grandmothers eldest daughter. I am blessed to have been her eldest grandchild, amongst her 33 grandchildren.

    Besides showering us with lots of love and affection and tirelessly cooking us delicious meals whenever we visited her home in Petaling Jaya, Ammama would always insist that we sit down with her for an hour or so everyday to learn and memorise a Bahá’í prayer. It was obvious that the foremost important thing to her was she wanted her grandchildren to be god fearing and spiritual, as how she had raised her own children. She instilled in us to be thrifty, to be kind and honest and to always appreciate and be grateful of the sacrifices made by our parents. Ammama was not materialistic and always led a simplistic and humble live.

    She was also a highly disciplined person and really good with time management. This explains how she manages to find time to teach the Bahá’í faith and attend some of the prayer meetings and activities organised.

    I am grateful that although 26 years have passed since my grandmother’s passing, many close friends and people from the Bahá’í faith continue to remember her devotion and contribution.

    Suren Karasu
    SYDNEY

  40. Enjoyed reading about Aunty Thurasingam. A very beautiful tribute. Her tenacity and will power is remarkable; an inspiration and motivation to woman of today. Having to bring up fifteen children single-handedly having lost her beloved husband at a fairly young age requires an unimaginable fortitude!

    I remembered being in the company of Aunty Thuriasingam at the Jack Davis course in Balakong in 1989. In one of those highly emotional sessions, we were taken through the suffering of Bahā’u’llāh in the Siyal Chal with the galling weight of the iron stock around His neck. We were all made to feel the weight of the iron stock that Jack had brought and Aunty volunteered to try the mighty weight on her despite her frail self. Though she could ntt manage the weight, she broke down feeling a sense of disappointment. I could recall her wailing asking Bahā’u’llāh for forgiveness.

    When Ponnusamy Arokiam, one more participant who was a close friend of Francis Singam, eldest son of Aunty Thuraisingam related the greatness of Francis Singam who had passed away by then, Aunty broke down and cried loudly saying, “Why has he gone before me? Why did he go before me?” She must have felt a terrible sense of loss for Francis. She cried so loud that Jack Davis and the 70 over participants broke and cried along with her. That was the most moving incident in that spiritualisation course that I still remember vividly to this day!

    May this beautiful soul be in the favored company of the Blessed Beauty.
    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subajng Jaya

  41. Dear Mani,
    That was a remarkable story of a woman’s dedication to caring for her family despite several the odds. She was ensuring her kids were well brought up spiritually and to serve the Cause and the community. The steadfastness of Mrs. Thuraisingam in the Faith and the abundance of generosity and sacrifice in teaching the Cause are truly admirable.

    I had the opportunity of knowing her daughter Florence in Subang Jaya community where I live. She is a good resemblance of Mrs. Thuraisingam in caring for the community.

    Glad to have read the story of a true stalwart in the strict sense of the word. Such are those who have led the way for us to emulate.

    May Baha’u’llah blessed this wonderful soul in the Abha Kingdom.

    Regards
    Dr. Leong Yow Peng
    Subang Jaya

  42. We often hear that the Bahai Faith is the second most widespread religion in the world. And we all know that teaching the Faith is not an easy task. A few questions come to my mind as I read your story on Mrs. Thuraisingam. How is the Faith of Baha’u’llah being spread far and wide? Certainly through the dedication of few of His followers. Those few were mostly pioneers in the early days who sacrificed their all, and we still have such dedicated servants in our midst. What are the accounts of their crises and their victories need to be recorded. History is important alright, but history of how the kingdom of God is being established on earth through the instrumentality of some dedicated believers is far more important to future generations. Mrs. Thuraisingam is well placed in answering some of these questions that have crossed my mind.

    So thank you Manisegaran for your hard work to give this gift to the present and to the future generations.

    May Benjamin
    North Carolina
    USA

  43. My dear brother Manisegaran,

    Where do I start? And what comment can I give? I have read so many stories published each month, but never was I moved to this much tears when reading this story of her suffering all her days and yet demonstrating the unshakable strength in her Faith. I can only draw a kind of small parallel with one more early believer who had suffered so much with so many children. She is the late Hand of the Cause Corrine True. Not that I am in any way equating the sufferings of Mrs. Thuraisingam to that of Corrine True, but I am stating with all honesty what crossed in my mind.

    Each phase of her life has been nothing but suffering- and each of your paragraph which I could graphically visualise is a lesson for me to think and reflect. What a life she has led and what a legacy she has left behind.

    Although all the stories that have been published in this blog are like jewels, this seem to be a special jewel. Her children would now have every reason to be proud of a great mother who has been a mother figure to the Bahai community as well. She had a purpose to live and a legacy to leave behind.

    Jaya Thota Raju
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh
    INDIA

  44. Dear Mr Manisegaran

    I am a regular reader of all the postings but this is the first time I am writing- or tempted to write. This is the most touching story I have read so far. There are many surprises and shocks in the story. That she was able to raise her 15 children under most difficult situation is simply unbelievable. And that she went for travel teaching to Sri Lanka, all alone at an old age is still a mystery to me. That her first share of the monthly budget was kept aside for the Bahai Funds is something not all would do. That she was so firm never giving up the trust in God when faced with insurmountable hurdles, pains, trials, difficulties, disappointments and what not is something I cannot come to understand. Her story is unbelievable and she is unbelievably a very rare gift to the Bahai community. I am yet to come across one of her kind.

    Thank you for posting this story which has truly stirred my soul!

    Shanmugam
    Kulai

  45. Dear Mr Mani,
    Thank you for publishing yet another great story and heroism of a maidservant of this blessed Cause of God. Her life has been so profound and left behind a spiritually legacy for many young women in the Faith to learn therein. I am so glad to know that she had visited my country of birth Sri Lanka in the year 1977 and that was on the very same year I was born. Very inspiring to learn of her courageous initiatives to have undertaken the most meritorious task of teaching and sharing the message and to serve the beloved Faith in the most difficult circumstances in the rural areas of both Malaysia and Sri Lanka. She has exemplified a perfect life of a Baha’i teacher with all the spiritual qualities, who has let go of this worldly desires to please the Abha Beauty! May her blessed soul rejoice in the spiritual realms in the company of the Most High.

    Shammi Shamilar
    Colombo
    Sri Lanka

  46. Mani Jan
    Although I have never had the chance of meeting Mrs. Mary Celine Thuraisingam in person I see here the example of a handmaiden of Baha’u’llah who moved such a love, devotion and perseverance and sacrificed much for the Cause she loved and served. Her firm conviction was the foundation upon which she was able to face the challenging odds of life. It is simply amazing to learn how she stood so firm in the covenant of Baha’u’llah. Having suddenly lost her beloved husband and became financially destitute, she struggled hard to raise and educated her fifteen children from childhood to maturity, and instilled with good manners and virtues in them . Mrs. Thuraisingam shines out as a sincere and invaluable gem.

    My sincere thanks to Manisegaran who has enabled the world-wide readers to read the details of the life of yet another handmaiden and an angel of the Cause of God.

    Kind regards,
    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chieng Mai
    Thailand

  47. I haven’t previously had an interaction or fortunate enough to know about Mrs. Thuraisingam. Through this interesting recount and step by step insights on her humble beginnings, perils, dutifulness, quest for truth, she has become a firm believer. Her steadfastness and milestones she achieved in life have truly impressed me to understand the level of efforts and dedication this great lady has put in to guide the path to many.

    It is no easy thing to give a clear descriptive of decades of life’s occurrences and narration which glues the reader and creates an interest to learn more and more about this wonderful soul.

    I thank you Mr. Manisegaran for presenting this wonderful recount to us and wishing you all the best to explore more such wonderful servants of Bahaullah and introduce them to our current and next generations.

    Warmest wishes and Regards,
    Lalita
    Hyderabad
    INDIA

  48. Dear Mr. Manisegaran
    Simply put, I am so stuck after reading this story of this handmaiden of God. I just could not say any more words when I read her story. Her story itself speak volumes and her life itself is a lesson for many in our generation. Mrs. Thuraisingam was indeed a remarkable, devoted and beautiful inside out lady.

    I salute to her and wish all Baha’i women will emulate her, me included.
    Kalo Fakatou

  49. My wife and I came to know Mrs. Thuraisingam when we moved into Petaling Jaya community in 1976.

    She was very friendly and kind and we regarded her as our own auntie. She was very active in teaching the Faith and was al]ways ready to join us for teaching trips even when she was given short notice. On a few occasions she accompanied us to a nearby Subang Estate to visit some contacts. They were all Tamil speaking and we could not speak Tamil. But Mrs Thuraisingam was very fluent in Tamil and was an asset in our teaching activities. We watched her delivering the message of Bahaullah in a very loving and calm manner. She spoke with full confidence.She was welcomed wherever she went. She would visit several homes in the estate during each teaching trips. We feel that she was a great teacher of the Faith.

    Tan Keat Fong
    Australia

  50. I read through the moving story of Mrs. Thuraisingam. My husband Mariappan and I met her when my husband was transferred to Kuantan in 1982. Usha Singam had delivered her son Benjamin. We did not even know that she is the mother of Francis Singam. At that time Shirley and her husband Lum Weng Hoe, Usha and Fancis were staying in the same double storeyed house that was used for Bahai activities. We met Mrs. Thuraisingam once or twice but did not get to know her that well. But it is this beautiful story of Mrs. Thuraisingam penned by you that has given us a clear picture of what a great lady she was and how she had served the Cause quietly and very effectively.

    Thank you again
    Jenny Wong
    Seremban

  51. Mani,
    I have seen Mrs. Thuraisingam a couple of times mostly in group meetings or Winter and Summer Schools and conferences.

    When you see her there a few observations you cannot fail to notice. The first thing that strikes you immediately is her immaculate dressing in saree. Second, her calm and regal bearings both in her walking and sitting gait. You are immediately attracted to her even when she is amidst a large group. The third indelible impression is when she spoke. She always spoke in measured and soft tone with clear and concise reasoning. These are what I cannot forget whenever her names comes up in conversations.

    It was only much later I came to know that she was the mother of Francis with whom had I mingled with. I could have never guessed it. May God bless both their souls.

    And it is only after reading this story that I came to know the indelible services and legacy she has left behind for the current and future generations to emulate.

    Dear Mani. Keep up the precious work you are doing. May Baha’u’llah strengthen you.

    Krishnamoorthy
    Klang
    Malaysia

  52. Mrs. Thuraisingam is another pillar of the Faith. She has the maturity and sublimity to comprehend clearly the second coming. This fits in well with her upbringing as a member of a church. For those who still do not or unable to grasp the return of Christ, this life story of hers will bare it all. Steadfastness, courage and fortitude are some of her outstanding qualities. With such daring-do she took the Faith to another level-travel teaching to Sri Lanka required a strength unmatched. When we have faith so shall our powers be. This is inspiration for those needing one. This is ‘hell-bent-I-wanna-make-it-happen’ and she did it!

    Merican
    Singapore

  53. Dear Mani
    Last night my daughter Doreen read to me your story of Mrs. Thuraisingam. I did not really know Mrs. Thuraisingam well though I remember she went to Sri Lanka for teaching the Cause. With your story I am able to get a fuller and clearer picture of what a great example she has set and a great legacy she has left behind.

    Needless to say you are doing a great service in writing about all these wonderful people whom time should never forget.

    Theresa Chee
    Ipoh

  54. Brother Mani
    The story of Mrs Thuraisingam’s life truly stirred the very core of my heart. What a way for her to have lived her life in accordance to her belief. She had a very clear understanding of the Faith. I have met her several times during gatherings/conferences but little did I know of the sacrifices she made for the Cause. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us.
    Parameswary Velayutham
    Subang Jaya

  55. Dear Mr. Mani,

    Mrs. Mary Celine Thuraisingam is of a different class of her own. She has reminded me so much of my beloved mother who was convinced of the truth of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh and stood so firm through her relentless and untiring services. This story is truly soul-stirring and deeply focused on the return of Christ. I was completely awe-struck with her firmness in her belief, self-confidence, and courage — by announcing her decision to have accepted the Blessed Beauty to the local priest and the Bishop. Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. Bahá’u’lláh has not only touched her pure soul with His mighty hand but it was truly ‘divine providence’ that she had to become a Bahá’í.

    “God has created in man the power of reason whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to blindly imitate his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind or the faculty of reasoning by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth; and that which he finds real and true, he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality.” – Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 291.

    I have shared this most convincing story with a few Roman Catholic friends of mine and with one in particular I had a long chat on the return of the Christ in the form of the Glory of God.

    May her glorious soul continue to love and serve her heart’s desire in the eternal kingdom of Abhá.

    With Loving Bahá’í Greetings,
    Velayutham Gopal
    Phnom Penh
    Cambodia

  56. Brother Manisegaran
    I just finished reading about Auntie Thuraisingam, and really have no words to express my feelings. Indeed you have so ably, wonderfully and beautifully put in all your words to write about auntie. I really thank God for giving you such a talent to use the right words, expressions and phrases to make the story so very interesting to read. This ability could only be a gift given by Bahaullah. May Bahaullah’s blessings be upon you to enable you to write more of those souls who would otherwise be forgotten. It is this blog that keeps those souls – some almost forgotten- alive in history and in our memories.

    I remember traveling with her in train in India in 1977. And this story gives a fuller picture on the life and services of auntie. As you have mentioned she was a very firm and straightforward person, and yet very caring and helpful too. I saw in her as a woman of determination with so much of love for Baha’u’llah and His Faith.

    She is a blessed soul and I will keep praying for her.

    Kumari
    Subang Jaya
    Malaysia

  57. Dear Mani
    Once again, it’s amazing how you managed to unearth the priceless treasures of history – this time details of the wonderful life of Auntie Thuraisingam.

    When I spoke to one of auntie’s daughters about your piece, she was so touched even though she lived the story!

    My wife says on teaching campaigns on the home front it was amazing how energetic and tireless she was, beating the younger ones in stamina.

    Truly, what a life, what a gift, what a treasure.

    Ronnie Koh
    Kuala Lumpur

  58. Manisegaran,
    What you have written about Mrs. Thuraisingam in your article portrays aptly her nature, dedication and steadfastness of her unwavering belief in the Faith of God. Her mind was so pure and prepared for the promised return of Christ. Her service to the Cause of God is exemplary and will inspire generations of people to serve and promote our beloved Cause.

    Your article about her life and her service , is an exceptionally good work . You have captured both her spirit and the work she has done extremely well and posterity will greatly benefit from your work.
    May God bless you with good health and life so that you will write more about the servants of the Cause for the future so that they will know how the early believers sacrificed their lives for Baha’u’llah.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan
    Kuala Lumpur
    Malaysia

  59. Dear Mani
    Thank you for writing about this great Bahai heroine. I remember she coming to stay in the Kilang Lama Estate near Sungei Petani, in 1977, of which you have well covered in your story. When I was approached to accommodate her in the estate and take her around for meeting people. I was also informed of her urban environment and middle class society she came from.

    She looked very elegant and neat in her saree. At first I was worried if she would find herself comfortable in my estate environment. My family gave her a single bed to rest. And she surprisingly felt very much at home as though she was one of us. She ate in the same plate we had at home and drank from the same cup as well. This is one of the powers of Bahaullah in transforming human beings. She spoke in simple and yet polished Tamil to all she met.

    And I am not surprised to read from your story that she served well in Sri Lanka as she could adjust and accommodate anywhere.

    I just had one encounter with her, and you have written enough to expand into a full biography of her, and also of others in this story.

    Thank you again Mani
    Indrani Arputhaseelan
    Alor Star
    Malaysia

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