At the Ramayana Centre
By Dr R Neerunjun Gopee
At a short but sweet ceremony held on last Saturday afternoon, the Bal Sanskaar class being held since last July at the Ramayana Centre was closed down for holidays, to resume on 15 January next, that is, on the next day after Sankranti. About fifty children have been following this course, which is to last three years, at the end of which they will be awarded a certificate.
Since its inauguration in August 2007, the Ramayana Centre has kept adding to its range of activities, the latest being the computer class for older children which has been running for a few weeks now, on Saturday afternoons. All these classes are offered free, and are conducted by volunteers.
For the Bal Sanskaar class, held every Saturday afternoon from 1.30 to 3 pm, there are three lady teachers who are involved. Their exemplary dedication was visible last Saturday as they led the children through, starting with an Omkar followed by a Ganesha mantra and the chanting of Twameva mata cha pita twameva. Next, a poem entitled Meri pyari Dadi was recited, and then an invocation of the Gayatri Mantra and after that a Krishna kirtan. The last item was a question-answer session on the Ramayana mainly. As a reward for their regular participation from the beginning all the children were given a small Rama-Hanuman booklet, after which we proceeded for refreshments.
As one of the lady teachers said at the beginning of the programme, look at these sweet kids sitting there, they represent our future, and it is our duty both as parents and as responsible members of society to prepare them to face that future and in turn to become useful members of society. Apart from their formal schooling, which will equip them to enter the world of work, what they also require is to learn to live with and relate to others in a spirit of mutual respect and understanding. This can only happen if they are inculcated from early on with the right values, especially in these times when we see so many bad things happening almost daily.
In his address, the chairman of the Ramayana Centre (RC) Shri Rajendra Arun expressed his pride and happiness that all the hard work put in and the sacrifice made to build the RC and get it going had been worth it. He had started by talking and writing about the Ramayana, but at a certain stage realized that this was not enough: it was time to be organizing and doing. And that is how the idea of setting up the Ramayana Centre came up, and as we sat there looking at the children and listening to them, we had reason to feel happy that a dream had come true.
He thanked the parents for their understanding of the importance of imparting proper values to children, and for their support in bringing their children to follow the Bal Sanskaar class. The children will internalize these values as they grow up and keep learning, and that would definitely help them to become good persons and contribute their share in constructing a saner society. Pt Arun emphasized that the parents must not come to RC as guests, but be part of the Ramayana family and actively support and participate in all the activities. He invited suggestions from them, and requested that they also indicate any shortcomings that they felt needed to be addressed, and these would certainly be taken on board in a positive spirit.
In the same vein, there was no question of sitting on one’s laurels, and the chairman outlined the further activities that were planned in the coming year: a music hobby course, Hindi class, and free tuition in Hinduism for SC students. With all this happening, RC members are confident that it will go from strength to strength and serve as a beacon in spreading the light of the eternal Vedic values in this region and beyond, why not.
* Published in print edition on 17 December 2010