A Unique Janamashtmi

 

The Lotus Healing Seva Group conducted  a Reiki Camp on 25/8/16 at The Makimei Children’s Home in the slums of Nairobi. The day incidentally was of the Hindu Festival of Janamashtmi – celebration of Lord Krishna’s earthly birthday.

What was amazing was that instead of being hooked on to the rituals connected to the festival ( not that there is anything wrong with rituals) the members actually practiced the teachings of Krishna who had emphasized the importance of one’s duty being above all. During the legendary Battle of Mahabharata Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to carry on with his duty of fighting the war for the just cause and not be influenced with his relationship with the opponents.

What is the duty these ladies carried on as their celebration? Being part of a group of energy healers they have accepted their duty of spreading the joys of Reiki among various segments of society at large by either conducting Reiki Healing Sessions or imparting the training for same as a selfless form of service.

Each time I get the opportunity to do such a Seva (selfless service) I encounter a very gratifying experience within myself. This seva at Makimei was a very fulfilling one too. I have expressed some of it as a poetry below. Looking at the infants lying around in a room was very soul searching for me. I thought of how much we have in life, and yet we are the most unsatisfied lot of grown ups. These little ones, were quiet to the extent to be mistaken as being asleep. At a closer look we noticed they were awake.

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Nidhi, who is a regular voluntary counsellor at this home said that these kids were usually quiet as they hadn’t known the luxury of being pampered or being attended to more than required. That was a revelation. We usually pamper and shower our best upon our children to the extent of spoiling them and here were these children who were satisfied at being fed. Their forlorn looks were so due to their ignorance of the joys of being pleased at each step. These little bundles of joy had not known to be coaxed to laugh the childish giggle that warms up many of the parenting hearts.

21 children got trained to Reiki that day. It was interesting to observe how the things which attract us are a mere life stance for them.  As Punita taught the children and Grace guided them with the positioning of hands I noticed a small cat moving around in the open tent. Perhaps the cat wanted some Reiki I thought to myself a bit amused. It went under a chair and came out from under another one moving over the feet of the young boys, our students. It didn’t bother these boys that the cat was moving around in the tent. They were so matter of fact about it. Then a tawny lean dog came in too with his slight limp. He wasn’t following the cat, he was just simply being there. This was life in it’s true essence for these children who were living together in harmony with these dog and cat mates without a fuss. And we, the privileged lot, take them as pets. We cuddle them, give them the luxurious life style as ourselves, and then portray that as being human. I sense different nature of humanness in different situations.

Another humane touch became so evident when some very young children due to the scorching heat were tired and sleepy. In their slumbery mood their hand posture would go wrong sometimes. The older children were very quick to guide the younger ones. They were not mere students, they behaved as gaurdians of the younger ones in the class. Mama Margaret the founder of the home had definitely ensured a valuable upbringing towards those fell under her care.

 

Reiki camp on Janamashtmi
By Monica Gokaldas

Heart touching their silence
Became our LHSG observation
As we entered the Makimai Home
And the place to us was shown
Infants, babies so very little
Covered cosy in warm blankets
All scattered around in a room
On the bed, the couch and even
On the floor
As we made way through the door
Missing were the rocking cradles
Or the luxuries of my childhood
I wondered whose little kids were these
And how could their mothers be at peace
Having left them alone to survive
Causing their motherhood a deprive
Were they cruel, were they unjust?
Were they dead or bowed to painful thrust?
Mama Margaret became their mum and dad
Be it a little girl or a young lad
Nurtured in her calming care
With running noses they stare
Silently gaping from the lap or their chair
Happiness comes to them with a dare
As we move ahead to the tent
Obedience displays with no dent
The students big and small gather all
Pulling chairs and lining up them all
To the unwalled tented walls
21 of them to be precise
They seated themselves with unseen pride
Of singing praises in prayer form
Poverty to them is not a storm
With cheerful faces full of life
Their energy immense knew no strife
Quick to learn, so very smart
God gifted is their craft and art
Being educated to the healing Reiki
By Punita with a disciplined making
Their grasping ability very vast
Calculating healing time, not moving fast
And did I mention that we didn’t observe
The very auspicious Janamashtmi fast
Observing the Birth Anniversary of Krishna
Him being our Hindu Divine Lord
Grace, Punita, Nidhi and I,Monica
Observed this pious divine day
By worshiping Krishna in anew form
His African Form of little kids
Who are divine in their Kenyan spirit
Purity of heart and thought
In their eyes we have caught
The true celebration of a festival
Is this joy of making it a Reiki-Val
And watching with delight the children
Practicing Healing on themselves
And their friendly partners
Some little imps playing pranks
Others silently giving thanks
Learning the attitude of gratitude
With healing that has no substitute
Mark and Henry the older boys
Correcting and guiding younger girls and boys
The positioning of hands appropriate
At the chakras back and front
The meridians too with hands so warm
The healers and the healees with charm
Giving and receiving the Reiki gift
Enjoying burgers, cakes and milk
Playing football in their break
Oozing with energy
So very real, not a fake
They chirped like birds at some lake
Yet serious lessons they did take
Some so young got tired
They wished to sleep, on chairs retired
The day so relaxing needed more break
As the warm sun broke into a heat spell
They needed to quench the parching throats
In the tent so ventilated yet hot
A drink of water midway was required
Satiated they quietly then returned
Back in action to practice the art
Of newly learnt Reiki craft.

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Maa Tujhe Salaam

 

I happened to attend an evening of Patriotic Songs – organised by “Kenbharti Centre” on 15th August 2016 at the Oshwal Junior High Auditorium in Parklands, Nairobi. This event which has now become the Signature Event of the organization is their 5th one. I remember having attended their first such event at the Simba Union on Forest Road as well but in between missed out on their events.

I write here not in mere praises of Kenbharti or the evening but what you are reading is an expression of  my own sentiments and observation during the program. The program began slightly after 8 pm and the auditorium by then was quite filled up. People who had fed themselves pretty well on the refreshments that were served from 7.15 onward were slightly well settled to begin with. There was a lot of hustle bustle and movement as they were selecting their seats.

The High Commissioner of India to Kenya, Shrimati Suchitra Durai came as the Chief Guest along with her better half, Ambassador Shri Swaminathan. The well lit auditorium was a pleasant sight as the arm rests of the seats had sequential ribbons of saffron, white or green tied upon them in alternation. I admired the thought of depicting the Indian Triclour  via this small but very visible and prominent touch. The stage was an epitome of the Indian Flag as well and I observed my thoughts about it. To witness such an Indian set up gave me a sense of Pride even though I was not at all any part of the organization. I was attending this as a guest of The Chairman of Kenbharti Centre, Mr. Abhijeet Gupta who never fails to invite at any of such events.

Why did I feel the pride? Why was it giving me a sense of happiness? The program hadn’t begun yet and I was already enjoying being there. But this feeling took a twist when the announcements and introductions were being made of the stage. Something about the usage of language which didn’t sound like a perfect Hindi was giving me an unpleasant taste. I guess, I was biased. The program hadn’t made any claims to be conducted in Hindi, and I had no right to be scrutinizing anyone’s diction.

The very fact that there is this dedicated group of people who tirelessly and selflessly work hard besides their busy work schedules to celebrate Being Indian speaks volumes about their love for the Country. I felt I am nowhere near them in any way when it comes to dedication, so why should I be affected if someone used Madam instead of Shrimati while introducing the High Commissioner. So what if they used the word agaaz instead of aarambh to announce the beginning of the musical program. I think I was being petty being critical at many such words.

The program finally commenced at around half past eight with a bhajan” Vaishnav jan ko…”  by Manasi Sardesai and Dhananjay  and all silly thoughts were shut up in self confinement. What better a way to begin the musical journey with a bhajan which shifts memories towards The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. There was a sudden stillness and all movement in the Hall was now halted.

The ambiance had turned very pure and serene for us elders and those who had little ones with them – remarkably they too became silent in following their elders. My focus had now shifted from the song to another observation. Such are the Sanskaras (Values) of our Tradition that even the small children know the sanctity of spirituality. The obedience   and observation of being quiet when one should be.

Yet another Observation came forth when Deepak Sharma, the CEO of Medanta Africare vocalized “Jab zero diya mere bharat ne...”. Not only were the audience participating with enthusiastic applause throughout, it was a moment of identifying our pride. We did nothing towards finding the Zero and many youngsters might have learnt of the Introduction of the ZERO by Aryabhatta, the ancient Indian Scholar for the first time that evening. Yet weren’t we all proud of it. Did we not feel WE have given something to the world by giving the दशमलव  or Zero?  I would call it our proud patriotism.

A turn of emotions from pride to solemnity came forth as Upkar Singh Ji gave the mesmerizing rendition of “hokey majboor mujhe, usney bhulaya hoga...” accompanied by Deepak Sharma. Two deep vocal chords, one strong composition and an efficient bunch of instrumentalists touched every heart with the emotions of pain and the sacrificial duties of the men who protect our country’s borders. This was a sort of silent patriotism where we salute those soldiers from our hearts.

Swarali Vaze’s rendition of  “Vande Mataram…” brought back memories of the action oriented scene from the movie, Anand Math which I had seen on Doordarshan during one those precious Sunday slots of Hindi Movie. The movie had triggered some patriotism in my heart at that young age of maybe 11 years. I wondered if the children sitting in the audience felt any of sentiment in their hearts, living away from India, may be considering Kenya as their home-ground. I admired the parents for tagging their little ones along with a hope of instilling some bonding with India and Indian-ness.

No sooner had I wondered about these kids that a very young Akshaya with an even younger accompanist enthralled the audience to the lively presentation of Alisha Chinoy’s success song ” Made in India….“. She sang it with the ease of a professional – unhindered voice, enjoying all the clapping from the crowds and living in the song as she sang correcting the mike position for her young accompanist. A thought occurred that I should term it as Young Patriotism.

The power filled slightly accented version of “Chitthi aayi hai….” by Nelson Asuvaz brought out some hidden emotions and along came the tears of separation. The separation from home-land, the separation from loved ones, the memories of gone days were encompassed not so much in the lyrics, but more so in the way it was sung from the heart. It was truly a soulful delight. My daughter sitting on the next seat couldn’t comprehend the reason behind my tears and I thought, ” she doesn’t feel it, The separation, as she was born and brought up in Kenya. It was more so about us, the people born in India that it touches the soul at the very mention of the country. This is probably the Born Patriotism which my parents might have felt towards Sindh, having been born there and forced to evict their birth-land. I cried silent tears on their behalf in that small yet large moment. I had felt their pain within me.

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Sadhu T. L. Vaswani beholding The Indian Flag as the Partition took place. A Sindhi by birth, An Indian by Heart and A Saint by The Soul.

Then came the moment where all definitions go silent. The mesmerizing belting out of the song “Ae mere vatan ke logon……” had the auditorium stunned to silence. The silent homage could be felt from the hearts, the heavy hearts, the grieving hearts, the proud hearts and the saluting hearts all combined in an awestruck performance on stage. The choice must have been tough to present such an impactful song without any visible signs of emotions expressed by the singer from India. Such was the effect that the audience stood up to give her a standing ovation. What a depiction of the Saluting Patriotism it was.

The mood was so dense and emotional that it was quickly switched over to lighter musical tunes and the awesome presentation of “Jahaan daal daal per sone ki …..” by Upkar Singh Ji had a good balance between the heaviness and light moments of the evening. This veteran singer has a habit of setting the stage pulsating by the depth in his voice. The audience were captivated by the musical notions of the song and everyone seemed to be living in the moment of this celebration of the 70th Independence Day of India. Before I end, I ask you what kind of Patriotism would you call it? A Musical Patriotism? I would love to hear from my readers about their experience of the same. Those who attended the program and those who didn’t attend – I believe there wouldn’t be much difference in opinions.

Monica Gokaldas

 

 

 

Patriotism

 

It is the 70th Independence Day of India being celebrated. There is a hoard of ccGreetings and Patriotic messages and photos being circulated on the Social Media by and to the Indian Diaspora all over the world. The day is a cold, foggy day in Nairobi, Kenya where the flag hoisting was done by the Indian High Commissioner Madam Suchitra Durai at The India House in the early hours of the morning to facilitate people to get to work in good time. The date : 15th August 2016.

In the hoard of messages Rita finds a post that speaks volumes about the Pride of being an Indian. She wastes no time in posting this message forward to those who can read messages in Hindi. While she doesn’t get much response from other groups ( she wasn’t expecting any as it was just a forwarded post and one gets several of those), to her surprise someone commented on this. It was her old Cambridge School  mate Rajiv Batra from New Delhi who commented by saying, ” I don’t know why but I always find our NRI’s in better respect and determination for our Nation, then we Indians living in it”.

This made her think, “Is it true? Do I have a better respect for my Motherland now that I am not in India?” She reflected, she searched her hidden compartment of the Love for her country in her heart and found some quick answers. She hurriedly replied to Rajiv’s comment by saying :

It is in that sense of belonging!

It is in that heritage!

It is in that land of our birth!

It is that identity that it gives us!

It is the calling of the heart that one wishes to die in the motherland!

That is the patriotism we experience when away from India!

Rita realized that so much of the sentiment of such patriotism remains hidden in each Indian Heart which emerges from time to time yet they do not acknowledge it open heatedly sometimes. Yes, The Indians away from India might be showing it more in oblivion. It is just like:

A Rose bud that opens up among all green leaves and emerges beautiful to the sight.

So is One’s Love for One’s Country which becomes very obvious when celebrated or spoken about in a different country.

So is One’s Love for One’s culture and tradition which emerges strong when celebrated within a different cultural atmosphere.

So is One’s Love for One’s Roots of emergence which makes One stand up in respect to the National Anthem at any social event.

So is One’s Love for One’s Lineage of the heritage that makes One speak with Pride when in such a discussion.

It is not about the Indians living in India that are not noticed by other Indians. It is about the sense of equality they feel with each other that their patriotism is taken for granted by their own selves. It is about the day to day difficulties they experience in their daily lives and blame the country for those that shrouds their patriotism to some extent. It is about the habit of feeling superior to others by not identifying that sense of pride in patriotism.

Rita and innumerable Indians who live away from their motherland feel that bonding with their roots in other countries. That is the reason when in India, one doesn’t much appreciate the Indians because at each glance one is faced with a fellow Indian so there is no rarity in that.

The very person who might have never gone to attend the Flag Hoisting Ceremony on a 26th January or a 15th August does so religiously in his country of abode away from India for that sense of belonging, for that sense of bonding, for that sense of being an Indian Identity far from being a Gujrati, a Maharashtrian or a Sindhi. 

One doesn’t need to be fighting a war or waging a war to be patriotic.

One doesn’t need to be disrespectful to another country to be patriotic.

One doesn’t need to be making big discoveries to be patriotic.

One doesn’t need to make big statements or appear in newspapers to be patriotic.

One needs to have that Love for the country deep within to be patriotic.

One needs to be respectful to One’s country in speech, action and thought to be patriotic.

One needs to be protecting the honour of the country in a pleasant way to be patriotic.

One needs to remain in boundaries beyond the boundaries to be patriotic.

Sikiladi

 

 

Members of the Indian Community were welcomed by the High Commioner of India to Kenya, Shrimati Suchitra Durai at The India House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

रक्षा बन्धन

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याद है बचपन की अठखेली
वो पूछना एक दूजे से पहेली
खेल खिलौने अद्भुत न्यारे
गेंद व गुड़ीयॉं प्यारे प्यारे

वो रंग भरी लम्बी पिचकारी
ग़ुबारों में जल भर होली की तैयारी
वो छत पर खेलना छुपन छुपाई
बात बात पर करना लड़ाई

याद आते हैं मेरे भैया प्यारे,
वो दिल्ली के साँझ सखारे
वो फुलझड़ी व कई पटाखे
मिल कर हम सब करते धमाके

manu kuturu

मम्मी से वो शिकायत करना
शरारत से वो चोटी खींचना
डैडी के घर में घुसते ही
शराफ़त की वो मूरत बनना

साथ उठ सुबह पढ़ाई करना
इक दूजे संग दौड़ लगाना
नानी, बुआ के घर जाना
सिंघाड़े, चाट व छली खाना

सुन्दर नगर जा मिठाई लाना
ऐसेक्स फ़ार्म से चिकन ले आना
अम्माँ के संग संगत जाना
प्रभात फेरी की मौज मचाना

कहॉं लुप्त हो गए वो दिन
उम्र के बहाव में बह गए वो दिन
हम भाई बहन की दूर हुई मंज़िल
जीना सीख लिया एक दूजे बिन

आज रक्षा बन्धन के पावन दिन
रीटा माँगे दिल से दुआ
मनु,मनोज, आशीष, सुधीर,
चनदर, लाल सदा रहो प्रसन्न

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दूजे भी मेरे भ्राता गण
सोनी, मुकेश, हरीश, सोनू,
महेश, दीपक व कमल
आज है पर्व तुम्हारा भैया
तुम जीयो हज़ारों वर्ष तक
हम सब बहनों की है दुआ

सिकीलधी
18/8/15

राखी वाला लचीला धागा

राखी वाला आया त्यौहार
घर में ज्यूँ आ गई हो बहार
बहन फुदकती भाई के गिर्द
सजाती थाली लिए स्नेह बिंदु

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लाती राखी वाला लचीला धागा
चन्दन टीका, कुमकुम वाला सुहागा
अक्षत भी माथे पर भैया के लगाती
दीप जला मन उज्जवल करती

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आरती रक्षक भ्राता की उतारती
उसकी लम्बी आयु की कामना करती
भाई का हित ह्रदय भीतर धर
मंगल धुन होंठों पर गाकर

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बाँधती वह राखी वाला लचीला धागा
भाई की कलाई खिल उठती सौ भागा
भैया की मनमोहक मुसकान जी को भाती
जब उसके चहेते मिषठान का निवाला लाती

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गद गद मन होता, अपने हाथों उसे खिलाती
राखी वाले लचीले धागे पर बलिहारी जाती
बन्धु उसका सखा सा भैया
जिसके संग बही जीवन नैया

दुलारता व अपना प्यार जताता
राखी वाली कलाई गर्व से निहारता
बहन चाहे छोटी हो या बड़ी
उसकी रक्षा का प्रण कर जाता
उसकी सुरक्षा का वचन निभाता

वर्ष दर वर्ष यह वचन दोहराता
बहना के चरण स्पर्श करके वह
देवी स्वरूप समक्ष शीश झुकाता

अजब यह रिश्ता बनाया हे ईश्वर
जिस पर स्वयं तू भी गौरव है करता
एक कच्चे से लचीले धागे से
स्नेह भरा अम्बार सा टपके

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मधुरता रिश्तों की बहुत निराली
भाई बहन की सदा रहे ख़ुशहाली
बहन के चोंचले, भाई की तकरार
सौग़ात का माँगना वह हर बार

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कभी वह रूठना और कभी मान जाना
ग़ुस्सा भूल एक दूजे संग अपनापन जताना
गले वो मिलना, रक्षा बन्धन मनाना
इसी को तो कहते हैं प्यार से प्यार निभाना ।।
सिकीलधी

LACK OF LOVE

 

Lack of Love

Impatience is densely heavy in the air,
Injustice climbs the ugly unstable stair.
Grumpy, angry looks gazing everywhere
Love appears to be hiding dodged somewhere.

It is lost amongst tall religious claims,
And several so called sectarian tribal names,
Of castes and creed and hoarding greed,
That’s come to define the inhuman human breed.

Intolerance soars to unknown heights,
Creating havoc with insecurity and frights.
Be it Kashmir, Karachi or our own Kisumu,
Be it Somalia, Sudan, Syria or the land of Zulu.

The scare comes like a monstrous nosing snare,
Tightening it’s grip on young and old without spare.
Munich, Mumbai, Malawi, and Murang’a in mourning,
No street, school, mall or hotel without groaning.

The shrines of sacred too under attack,
Though every now and then Love springs back.
The mosques, the churches and temples all,
Succumb to tragedy of terror that doth befall.

The Pulse went silent in beautiful Orlando,
The Gunman died in a deadly diminuendo.
Shooting those who wished for some fun,
And unfortunately fell prey to the gun.

The youthful hope of future of the country,
In Bangladesh killed several lives untimely.
The axe attack on the train in Germany,
By the youth who refused life of harmony.

The city of Nice with not so nice a scene,
When madness and frenzy reigned supreme.
Killing and injuring several who celebrated,
Their outing on Bastille Day turned ill fated.

Turkey too captured by crime and grime,
Spreads fear from bombings time to time.
The law-keepers fell as lives were ended,
In Dallas the racist values demonstrated.

Garissa, Mandera , Lamu, Nairobi or Kilifi,
The Kenyan soil in pain is burdened heavily.
With emotions of pride now deprived,
To anger, hatred and terror that radicalized.

The smoking crèche of arsonous dormitories,
That were meant to be the safe sanctuaries.
For those who made home away from home,
To learn the lessons that tutors doth shown.

The Koffi Kick puts some men to the shame,
While others wallow over clerics sex games.
Rape, abuse, incest come with a heavy cost,
When the victims lay feebler to virtues lost.

Japan shook up to the merciless attack so ugly,
As disabled further maimed by the knife wickedly.
The morning mass disrupted in a church vaguely,
In Normandy the throat sliced of hostage priestly.

The lack of love in human hearts cries out,
Calling for mercy and love screaming aloud.
The missing brotherhood is on the lookout,
The Oneness of Love must now spring sprout.

 

published in The Asian Weekly in the issue #311

http://www.theasianweekly.net/web/

 

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MY FRIEND

When times ran tough
And I was shunned
You entered life
Like a fragrant flower
Uplifted me and beckoned me
My friend you gave myself
Back to me.

In the darkest nights
When lights went out
You crossed the street to be with me
You held my hand and supported me
My friend you paved the way
And rescued me.

When misunderstood was I
By one and all
And loneliness ran me dry
Together for hours did we cry
You braved the norms
And made me smile
My friend you lit the torch
And brought some hope to me.

When failures and success
Captured me
And I got caught up in fallacy
You fought, shouted, but never left
And observed my traits
My friend you brought my sanity
Back to the selfish me.

When family pressures burdened me
And life filled in monotony
Crushed by work and earnings
I lost my charming
My friend you cheered me up
And brought a zest to me.

When crumpled I fell to the ground
Like a withered plant in a storm
I failed and suffered in agony
And lived life like fake ceremony
My friend you watered my ambitions
And brought a bloom back in me.

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