Children’s Cultural Festival

Gurudevji training the children in yogasanas
Gurudevji training the children in yogasanas
Gurudevji training the children in cultural items
Gurudevji training the children in cultural items

The great ‘Gurudev’ Swami Nischalanandaji Maharaj was born in Newcastle. At his birthplace, the Children’s Cultural festival of the Northern Natal was celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year. It was not an accident; neither was it planned. But it had come in due course bringing forth how much ‘Gurudev’ loved the children and how much more he was interested in instilling the spiritual values among them. Some of the old devotees still remember how Gurudev used to stand on hours together in training the children in performance of cultural items. He used to personally conduct Yoga Camps especially for children training them in correct postures through practice of yogasanas.

I was pleased to attend the Northern Natal Children’s Cultural Festival held at Newcastle Richview hall. Branches from Estcourt, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Glencoe and Dundee participated. The enthusiasm of the children was infectious, each one vying with one another, making efforts in excelling in whatever he/she did. The Festival was an occasion to bring out the best in the child. There were scintillating sketches, soul-filling songs, sterling speeches and delighting dances interspersed with inspiring quotes from the Holy Trio. While I gave the Key-note Address, brother Swami Saradaprabahanandaji gave the Concluding Address. Overall the time from 9 am to 4 pm was well spent in the company of the children. In spite of the inclement weather of speedy winds, the officials did a splendid job in organising the Festival at the venue.

Abiding spiritual values are taught to the children who attend our Sunday School classes. The parents have reported to me that they are immensely benefitted as they could see emergence of the wonderfully shaping of their children’s personality. In my previous post I gave a brief intro about the Sunday School classes and three slideshows on the Certificates Award function.

To see all the photos of the Festival, just click on the below link that will take you to the picasa web album. There click ‘slideshow’, then relax and watch!    

Northern Natal Children’s Cultural Festival

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21 comments

  1. Revered Maharaj
    Humble pranam!
    My prostrations at the Lotus Feet of Gurudev, who brought the Name of Sri Ramakrishna to the shores of South Africa!
    Our children’s classes are, surely one of the most important components of our Centre’s activities. Our scriptures ladened with wisdom and spiritual truths, are taught to children. The enthusiasm of the children and teachers make classes fulfilling and inspiring.
    Thank You Revered Maharaji for posting this article. Both parents and children must be made aware of the Children’s classes and parents need to play a vital role by sending their children to these wonderful classes; because children are humanity’s greatest assets.
    With respectful pranam
    Avitha
    PMB, SA

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    1. Dear Avitha
      Yes, It is so significant to stress again and again the importance of the Children’s classes. During my visits to the various sub centres, I have seen the eagerness in the children to learn our syallabus. The chanting of the Gita Verses, Ramayan Verses and the Shanti mantras especially by the younger children is wonderful to hear. I know our silent teachers, unseen and unsung work very hard to make the children imbibe the Life-giving values of our dharma. And no one is paid, you know! As yourself a Sunday School Teacher, you are the best person to make an averment on the usefulness of sending children to these classes.
      May Mother Sarada bestow us the courage to follow the Path!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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      1. Dear Avitha

        That is a great comment! As once a teacher in the centre, it is very important for children to learn the scriptures. It is also good for parents to be involved in all aspects of their children’s education, secular and spiritual. The classes are great for the children and for making them good people in society.
        Pranams!

        Navrishka
        Goa, India

        Like

  2. Dear Swamijee
    These children sunday classes are so valuable for both the parents and children. I have seen so many times in my daily contact with children who have taken to wrong paths. Their parents say that they have given everything to their children and they have gone the other way!
    So when I ask them “did you give them spiritual education?”, they are dumbfounded that such an education is needed!
    I make it my duty to tell and encourage every parent with young children to attend sunday schools, be they Christians or Hindu. spiritual education is the “guiding Light” which will not allow the child to do wrong in his growing period of his/her life.
    Jai Sri Ramakrishna!
    Dr Naren Rana
    Durban, SA

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    1. Yes, Dr Rana!
      This is excatly what I stressed in my key-note address at the Children’s Cultural Festival at Newcastle. I tell the Hindu population here that they are carrying on their shoulders the priceless legacy of which they are not aware of. And they have no right to deprive the coming generation from knowing those spiritual values. In some instances, the children actually teach the parents! They even refuse to attend any outings if they clash with the Sunday Classes!
      May this tribe increase in strength!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  3. Adarneeya Maharajji,
    Saadar Pranaam!
    It was really a gust of cool air as if after a long, long hot summer! I mean reading your words of nectar after a long gap!
    Maharajji, can we request you to tell us little more about the great ‘Gurudev’ Swami Nischalanandaji Maharaj? It will be a great source of inspiration for us Devotees of Holy Trio.
    I always think that NEW VERSIONS of GOD LIVED WITH THEM and THEY LIVED WITH GOD is the NEED of the HOUR….This time it can be a compilation of LIVES OF MONASTICS GIANTS OF NEXT GENERATION and HOUSEHOLDERS AND LAY DEVOTEES OF HOLY TRIO (eg. Shri Nandlalji Tantia).
    I remember an IPS officer telling me WHAT IS THE CONTRIBUTION OF RAMAKRISHNA ORDER AFTER SWAMI VIVEKANANDA! Though I immediately gave him a book MY LIFE, MY WORK, an autobiography of Most Most Rev. Swami Ranaganathanandaji Maharaj, still I feel that WE SHOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT OTHER “GEMS OF THAKUR’S CHILDREN”.
    Yesterday Sister Avitha posted about Revered Swami Yatishswaranandaji Maharaj in our group. We would like to learn more about Giants like him.

    Bharat
    Mumbai, India

    Like

    1. Dear Bharat
      I am pleased to see your keen interest in knowing much about Revered ‘Gurudev’ Nischalanandaji Maharaj. By clicking his name you will be taken to our website where you can read about him. But thats only in brief. To know more about him, I am sending through Dr Rana a well-written book about Gurudev.
      I deeply appreciate your interest in propagation of life incidents of Gems of Thakur’s Children. They are so practical and give us the required inspiration too.
      May Master help you in your endeavour!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  4. Revered Maharaj,
    Aum Namo Narayanaya !
    Pranam at your Lotus feet. We were indeed blessed to be with such holy company at the Childrens Cultural Festival.

    I would like to thank you Swamiji, for including your spiritual talks in your blog. Now I am able to listen to your talks everyday and learn more.

    Jai Shri Durga, Jai Shri Durga, Jai Shri Durga!

    Natasha
    Newcastle, SA

    Like

    1. Dear Natasha
      Yes, indeed I too was happy to see all our children at the Cultural Festival. Their performance was exemplary. Even though they don’t see everyday and don’t stay in the same environment as our children in India do, they could bring out their best and portrayed Indian Culture in its pristine form.
      Oh! You are listening to my Talks too! Well, at the request of many devotees here and in India, I am now uploading some of my Talks into the website http://www.soundcloud.com/vimokshananda page. Just give me feedback on that site about how good is the reception etc.
      May Durga‘s protection be with you is my prayer!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  5. This Gita Certificate (Course) is very good concept, I guess other Mission (Centres) don’t follow.
    May be Ramakrshna Mission should standardise Courses like Gita, Upanisads and Rig Veda Certifications.

    Jai
    Bangalore, India

    Like

  6. Pranam Maharaj.

    It is nice to know about the activities for children at South Africa. One of my friends used to tell “Whether you physically live in India or not, you are an Indian as much as India lives in you.” In these days when we find India not living in people who physically live in India, it is heartening to know that India is flourishing in the minds and hearts of people who live outside the physical boundaries. As Aurobindo rightly says, India is not a clod of earth or a political entity. It is the culture, arts, literature, philosophy and religion that make India. All other social, economic, military, political, scientific, technological, educational, etc systems are only to protect and nurture this culture, which is the true India. I would say the children under your guidance are getting exposed to India more than the unguided children here.

    Reading about the activities makes me guess that you may be having a time-tested study material as guidance for these classes. Are these material available online? I am sure it will benefit several people. For example, here in India, if a group of devotees want to conduct sunday classes for a group of children or if the parents want to instill such values in their children, it will be helpful to have ready-made material in the form of a graded set of activities every week for, say 40 weeks a year, for one hour each. We can print them out and use them.

    With pranams,
    Gomu
    Bangalore, India

    Like

    1. Dear Gomu

      Thank you for showing so much interest in our Children’s Classes. Children from as little as 4 years to children of 16 years attend these classes. They are conducted what we call Levels. Level 0 is applicable to students studying in Grades RR, R, 1, 2 and 3. Their activities include colouring, mantra recitals, singing and story telling. Stories are told by the teachers about the pictures. Levels 1 – 4 (Grades 4 to 7) – Comics. Levels 5 – 8 (Grades 8 – 11) – Life, Legacy and Teachings.

      Our Centre has published a book called Hinduism for Children, whereby older children are taught in simple language about the Vedas, Message of the Bhagavad Gita, Simple Teachings of the Holy Trio, Ramayan etc. For the youth more intense study of the Life and Teachings of the Holy Trio is done using published books from Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata and Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.

      Also during classes, the meaning of the Opening Prayer is taught; Shanti Mantras and Bhagvad Gita verses are recited. Discussions on Drugs, smoking, Careers, Parent-child relationship etc are discussed. How to live good, healthy and moral lives is the keynote to every discussion.

      I can send a copy of the Hindusim for Children with Dr Rana for your perusal. Other books are found in the bookshops in our India branches. Pictorial books are also used for story telling.

      I am glad to tell you in India our Organisation and Chinmaya Mission are pioneering in this field of conducting classes for children. Yet, in Indian atmosphere structured classes may not always be needed as the children are taught by practice in their own homes. But outside India, because of the inherent minority status and the influence of the ruling cultures, it has become necessary for the Hindu population to teach our children presenting our Religion in a sort of ‘homegenised form’ in the initial growing age. Later, as they grow they are exposed to the marvelous nature of the variety that our Religion presents to the discerning minds.

      I hope you find this helpful.
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

      1. Pranam Maharaj.

        Thanks for your detailed reply. Bharatji called me up today and told me that you have sent the book for me. Thanks a lot for that. I understand the differences in the situation within India and outside. I will go through the book and get back to you if I have any questions. Thanks.

        With regards,
        Gomu.

        Like

  7. Revered Maharaj
    Om Namo Narayanaya!

    Thank you for this wonderful site. I was scheduled to leave my office at midday as I have taken ill. 2 hours later and I’m still on this site.
    Looking forward to future articles.

    Jay Shree Raam!
    Pranams
    Ravin Maharaj
    Nedbank, Durban, SA

    Like

    1. Dear Ravin
      Well, you should not have continued when you felt ill ! First priority is to take proper medicine and take rest. I would have been more happy if you did this than reading my blog for more than two hours! No, please have sufficient rest.

      Think of Shri Hanumanji as Tulsidas says that ‘Hanumanji, the Mighty One shall remove all pains and problems of those who invoke Him’ sankata katai mitai saba pira, jo sumirai hanumanta balabira’.

      May Shri Raam be in your heart!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  8. Aum Namo Narayanaya!

    This article is one that has great value to my heart. I have been a part of the children’s festivals for a long time. As children of the Phoenix branch, we would always put together items. Over the years I have participated in songs, dances, plays and many other activities. As I grew older I joined as a teacher, and it was a great experience. I truly believe that the children’s classes are one of the best activities of the centre, and the children’s cultural festival is a wonderful event in the centre’s calender. It was so lovely to see the pictures of our Gurudevji and his training of the children.
    Jai Sri Ramakrishna!

    navrishka
    Goa, India

    Like

    1. Dear Navrishka
      It is most gratifying to get a comment from such a distant place, from you – one who was part of the Children’s festival here and also were a teacher in training children! The fact that you cherish the value of your association and are trying to build your life on the foundation of the eternal vaules of our dharma shows the usefulness of these value moulding programs. Whenever you visit your home country, please try to meet your branch children not only to motivate them to attend the Sunday Classes but also renew your kinship with them.
      May Master’s blessings be with you!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  9. Revered Swamiji,

    Pranams at your LOTUS feet. Lots of love. It is really inspiring to see classes and activities for the little kids and teens. I also believe that values and cultural activity classes is a lifetime process and not a single event. Thank you for the Blessings.

    Love,
    Sunny
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. Yes, Sunny! so true what you have said!
      The feedback from ex-teachers and once upon a student reveals your point. Thank you! May your work among the children increase in quantity and quality!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  10. Most revered Maharaj,

    This Blog has been really a moral booster, as your writings own up to awakening the dead minds, atleast it happened in my case. When I read this post, I was so happy and amazed to know the implementation and increasing love and support Indian Values and beliefs are gaining abroad now-a-days; and indeed evolved and great souls as Gurudevji have helped in its propagation.

    The Swamis associated with the Ramakrishna order have always given the first importance to Studies.I have even been scholded, for not studying and frequently visiting the temple, by Swamis in pune.[:)]And through the cultural festivities and sunday school programmes, it is so good and blissful of the Ramakrishna Centres and sub-centres to preach just and truth, love and sincerity, moral and character, and of course letting the new blooms of life, know about the great God-men, our beloved holy trio. I have heard you relentlessly working for the same cause and I have seen Avitha ji, who gives her best, teaching kids in the school.

    I am sans all words at the beautiful organized and selfless approach you all are doing over there. and I have no other emotions than to offer my obeisance to all of you.
    Please take my most humble pranams.

    Sabuj
    Pune, India

    Like

    1. Dear Sabuj

      It was so good to read your comment. There are many Sunday school teachers here who serve as worship to our Beloved Master. Also at the same time the teachers are also learning, which is very uplifting. But most importantly the teachers love to discuss the Life and Teachings of Holy Mother, Master and Swamijee together with other interesting lives of saints and sages.

      Yours in the Name of the Master
      Avitha
      Pietermaritzburg, SA

      Like

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