The Marwadi community is well known for trade, industry and business activities as most people from this community are rarely involved in other sectors. A very negligible number of people from the Marwardi community are found working in sectors like politics and civil service.
Fifty eight year-old Pawan Singhaniya, however, has chosen a different path. Generations of his family has been in gold and silver related businesses. But Pawan started something different . Given his natural inclination, his father Hardwari Lal Singhaniya would often suggest to him to join funeral processions for the dead in their area.
Stepping in for his father as usual one day, Pawan was in a funeral process for a local. As they reached the cremation site of Gangasagar in Janakpur, the garbage dumped around the area stank. Stray dogs and pigs were scavenging the piles of wastes . He felt very bad on seeing the conditions at the spot where cremations are held.
As he spent three hours there, he pondered a lot what could be done to improve things at the cremation site. He shared ideas with around 100 people. “Let's stop cremating the dead in the midst of such filth. Let's make the cremation site a Swargadwar [gate to heaven],” he said.
But few were impressed by his plans. “Everyone becomes like a saint when they join a funeral procession. But as they take a ritual bath in the river , they dump his ideas right there and forget everything once they turn back,” said his friends. But Pawan was undeterred by such indifference.
A foundation stone was laid on March 1, 2002. After spending around Rs 20 million, Pawan developed the place where people used to find it difficult to spend a few hours during cremations into a place of beauty. People now say "it is like heaven”.
It has become a favorite hangout for children, teenagers, youths and the elderly alike. People prefer to meet their friends there. Some even describe it as a dating spot. They used to be afraid to go there even during daytime. It is now bubbling with activity until late evening.
There is no government investment in developing this place. It cost around Rs 20 million in donations collected from locals under Pawan's leadership . The Swargadwar has a well-maintained garden, an attractive looking temple of Bhootnath, idols of Shiva and Parbati and a building for cremations during rainfall.
Pawan now wants to expand Swargadwar. For that he needs around Rs 7 million. After that he wants to build an electric crematorium as well.
Father of two sons and a daughter, Pawan hasn't started any business of his own. He inherited a hotel as ancestral property and it is run by his employees. He said he gets enough time for social work because this offspring are self-reliant.
He believes that since death is inevitable, the departure from this world should be made a dignified one. That thought inspired him to develop Swargadwar. Though he isn't earning big money compared to members of his family and community, he has earned the prestige of a respected person in society.
Bijay Singh, a lawyer, has described Pawan as an exemplary person. “Our society needs such people because everyone is running after money only,” said Singh.
Social activist Jagadish Thakur said that the involvement of someone from a traditional business community in social work instead of taking up lucrative opportunities in business is a welcome thing . “It's great work ,” said Thakur.