On Thursday evening-our weekend here we had been to ISKCON. It had been a long time and we had heard that an idol of Balram had been included. We reached at about 9 p.m and a bhajan session was in full swing. My son initially shy; sat on my lap, slowly graduated to clapping then to standing up and swaying to the beat and eventually running around. He just loves to play on the banister in front of the Lord. The third time he did so and the priest gently asked him not to (for the second time) I got embarrassed and took him to the inner room.
The sight that met my eyes delighted me. There were about 30 kids of varying ages in 3 batches of 10 each, busy with their own activity. All were sitting cross legged on the floor. One batch was having drawing class, another shloka and the third was having a story session-an interactive one. Their body language showed that they were enjoying the sessions and were not forced into it. When the aarti was to take place outside, the class was adjourned and each got up and bowed before his teacher in true Guru-shisya parampara.
After the aarti Prasad (dinner)was served. While all sat down the children made their own Pankti (line). As per ISKCON tradition the first person in the line will be handed a plate already laden with food and he in turn passes it to the person next to him and so on. When all the people had received their plates, the kids without prompting said a prayer thanking the Lord for the food. And my heart swelled with pride. These were children brought up in Bahrain (most of them were even born here) and were following age old customs without any grudges.
In our yearly sojourns to India I feel the increasing western influences on the society there. While I find Westerners here more interested in India, Indianess, Hinduism and Yoga. When I used to work as Course Coordinator I had been asked questions from our scriptures, traditions etc which sometimes I was unable to answer and used to rush back home to research on.
In case you wonder that the children were behaving like automatons let me also tell you what happened later. As soon as we all started dinner while we adults were busy gobbling up and in a hurry to return home, the kids were relaxed and chatting away. Topics ranged from school to IPL to …yes Indian elections. The menu that days was rice, dal, sweet pongal (Jaggery rice-don’t know what it is called exactly) and mattar paneer. When the volunteers came with second servings all kids cried out in unison ”Prabhuji-Paneer”. 🙂