Virtual Walkathon: All for a Cause

With the pandemic refusing to fade way, virtual and digital is the new way of life. Be it zoom calls, online classrooms or virtual concerts, e-meeting your colleagues, classmates and audience is the new normal.
And when people get together for a fitness initiative to support a cause like educating rural India, such fund raisers leave a deeper impact in the minds of all stakeholders.
AIM for Seva, USA team recently completed a Good Karma 5k (run/walk,) a few days back. This virtual walkathon saw participation of 1,357 people from across the country (See Box: AIM for Seva USA Chapter wise Participation). Participants registered online for a small fee ($25) and then ran/walked/jogged in their own treadmills and neighbouring parks.
Some of the participants made donations to AIM for Seva while some others (small companies) sponsored the event. The new entrants got an opportunity to witness the good work done by AIM for Seva on ground. What’s heartening is that some of the new members have expressed an interest in our existing projects.
“All our Chapter Sevaks had been working very hard for the past six weeks to turn this event into a success.  We could clearly see Pujya Swamiji’s smile and grace flowing through all of us, especially in his 90th Jayanthi and 20th year of Seva movement,” Srini Raman, Chief Operating Officer, AIM for Seva, USA said.

AIM for Seva was able to raise $ 25,000 through this event. “We met our goal of branding, awareness and fundraising and more importantly, continued with the Seva movement work,” Srini Raman said. He added that it was encouraging to see people wanting to do good and feel good amidst the pandemic situation and other disturbing events taking place in USA currently.

Another north American chapter, AIM for Seva Canada too raised $ 20,000 through a virtual walkathon fundraiser on 31st May.

Walk to Educate, AIM for Seva Canada’s annual walkathon went virtual this year. Each of the participating families were asked to raise $100 in pledges.

USA Chapter Wise Participation

Name of Chapter No of Participants
New Jersey 328
Detroit MI 229
Albany NY 216
San Diego CA 152
Hartford CT 65
Knoxville TN 50
Atlanta GA 48
Raleigh NC 47
Orlando FL 30
Dallas TX 26
Chicago IL 24
San Francisco CA 23
Little Rock AR 19
New York NY 19
Washington DC 16
Austin TX 15
Boston MA 14
Philadelphia PA 9
Dayton OH 8
Seattle WA 7
Pittsburgh PA 6
Fort Meyers FL 2
Elmira NY 1
Fort Lauderdale FL 1
Houston TX 1
Peoria IL 1

Education of a Different Kind: Prayer, Music and Exercise

The countrywide lockdown has resulted in online education occupying centrestage. At the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, not only have the school authorities embraced the virtual classroom mode but technology is also being harnessed to keep our students engaged in other ways.

Slokam, Ragam and Yogam has been a pioneering effort by the school management in this regard. As the name suggests, students are exposed to a prayer, a song and an exercise which is televised through YouTube. Each session is about 20 minutes each and so far, 44 episodes have been telecast. The average daily  viewership is 50.

“We started these sessions to remove fear about the disease (Covid-19) and increase the confidence to fight against the situation. Accordingly, we conceptualised Slokam (Apamarjana stotram —cleansing the body from the disease), Raagam (to relax the mind and heart) and Yogam (to relax the body with a focus on physical fitness),” says Smt. Padma Raghunathan, principal, Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu.

The target audience is the school staff, students and parents. “We plan to extend this to families and friends of our stakeholders,” says Smt. Raghunathan.

How to win over stress and anxiety in these times

Apart from Seva on the field, AIM for Seva is providing people access to timeless wisdom by making available free online titles written by Pujya Swamiji and spiritual webinars.

From 21 to 23 May, Swami Omkarananda Saraswati ji from Theni, Tamil Nadu, held a one hour webinar (6 pm to 7 pm) where he enlightened the audience on how to deal with stress, anxiety and insecurity arising out of Covid-19. More than 1000 participants saw the programme live.

Swamiji begun by comparing the current insecurity faced by all to that of Arjuna in the battlefield. When he realises that war is about killing his own kith and kin, he experiences psychological stress and surrenders to Krishna.

“We need inner leisure. And those who have full knowledge of Bhagvad Gita will be successful in life,” averred Swamiji.   Swamiji added that having Sraddha will ensure that we never have doubts or anxiety, deep sorrow or deep ecstasy, pleasure or happiness. A person who is ever doubting will never succeed in his or her material or spiritual pursuits. Swamiji also reminded the audience that happiness is a simple emotion but achieving that becomes tough because we attach many pre-conditions to it. Also, conflict is the result of too many choices. “Ultimately, we strive for PSH-peace, security and happiness,” said Swamiji.

Swamiji also said that if we continue to identify ourselves only with our body then we will only seek material pursuits. On the other hand, if we identify ourselves with Jiva then we will be accommodative of all life’s lessons.

In a lighter vein, Swamiji asked the audience that while everyone keenly follows Jyotish Shastra (astrology) and Vaastu Shashtra (traditional Indian system of architecture), but what about Dharma Shastra? He told the webinar participants that as per our scriptures, God is everywhere and does not reside in heavens alone. “The home is a temple and we worship water, fire, serpents, etc.”

Swamiji also good humouredly pointed out that we live in times where religious places of worship continue to remain shut for fear of Covid-19 spread but liquor shops continue to remain open. He reminded the audience of the ten verses in Thirukkural composed by the patron saint of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvalluvar extolling people to refrain from consuming alcohol.

According to Swamiji, the need of the hour was development of spiritual wealth. “Too much of greed leads to anxiety. Contentment is natural wealth, while luxury is artificial poverty.” Swamiji advocated cultivation of values such as contentment, contribution (Danam), patience, a clear vision (discerning ability), humility and appreciation.

For easy remembrance, Swamiji advocated 4 Ds—Discrimination (distinguishing between dharma and adharma), dispassion, discipline (values and attitudes) and discovery (of self and Ishvara). The 4Ds help us discover ultimate peace in life.”

The three days’ webinar concluded with a powerful message from Swamiji. “Whenever my eyes are open, I should think what I can do for society so that when I close my eyes, I feel peace with myself.”

The audience lapped every word and minute of the three day seminar as evidenced from the feedback. “I have no words to express – the  joy and appreciation we all listeners and viewers felt – when we listen to Swamiji’s powerful Prana packed voice, expert cross referencing in shastras to drive home a point and wonderful message and vision,” said one.

Another participant said the need for Karma yoga bent of mind came out well during the webinar.

Corona Virus Awareness Programme

With India reporting 112 cases of the novel Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), awareness building assumes greater significance than ever before.

A Corona Virus Awareness Programme was conducted for all students and staff members of Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, On 12th March. Sri.M.G. Srinivasan, correspondent of the college presided over the function.

Smt.V.Hema, principal in-charge welcomed the gathering. Dr.K. Balakumaravelu, retired medical officer, Kodavasal,Tamil Nadu, and Dr. Sivagurunathan, medical officer, Primary Health Centre, Tiruvidachery, Tamil Nadu, spoke about the origin of the disease, causes, symptoms, transmission and precautions. The medical practitioners gave pointers on how to identify the disewipase early and how to protect oneself from it. The doctors listed out the ‘do’s and don’t’s with respect to CoronaVirus and indicated its symptoms, fever, cough and shortness of breath. Precautionary measures include hand, respiratory and surface hygiene. The medical professionals also demonstrated handwashing and mask donning.

Sri.M.R. Rajagopal, manager-Wipro and Dr.N. Kanakasabesan, Dean – Academics, Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, attended the programme.

On 11th March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared the Coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. A pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations. There are now more than 153,648 confirmed Coronavirus cases across 146 countries.

Vedanta camp for Japanese students

Swami  Cetanananda Saraswati ji from Japan held a  Vedanta camp for his students at the Jnanha Pravaha in Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu. Swamiji belongs to the Arsha Vidya Sampradaya.

“ I have been teaching in Japan what I heard from Swami Dayananda ji, but it is only after my students came to this village (Manjakkudi, Pujya Swamiji’s birthplace) that they really understood what I taught,”  Swami Cetanananda Saraswati ji said.

Recounting the retreat and positive impact it created on the Japanese students who attended the same, Swami Cetanananda Saraswati ji said that the teachings of Pujya Swamiji continue to permeate the hearts of the people today.

On their part, the students were impressed with the kindness and hospitality extended by the villagers from Manjakkudi. The students had brought a small Vigraha of Krishna from Japan for which a daily abhishekam was done by the Pujari.

The principal of the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, Smt. Padma Raghunathan invited the Japanese guests to school to have a cultural exchange dialogue with students from rural India.  “This was a great Prasada for the students and me as we got to see many beautiful virtues in children. After coming back home, some students were crying and told that they were touched by the hearts of children,” recalled Swami Cetanananda Saraswati ji.

Swami Cetanananda Saraswati ji said that during the Vedanta retreat; the Japanese students felt the grace of Swamiji everywhere and they brought back this grace to Japan. “The people of Manjakkudi welcomed us and gave us many things in many ways. Manjakkudi serves as an inspiring place. Most of my students know about Pujya Swamiji only through the Bhagavad Gita home study programme. Therefore, Manjakkudi has a special place in their hearts.”

Keeping alive tribal traditions

Laughter, fun and frolic and above all being in the lap of nature. Every year, students from across our Chatralayams go on outdoor trips. Such outings help them to bond with each in an informal environment.

In January, students from the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Utnoor, Telangana were taken to the Keslapur fair. Nagoba Jatara is a tribal festival held in Keslapur village, Inderavelly Mandal Adilabad district, Telangana, India. It is the second biggest tribal carnival and is celebrated by the Mesaram clan of Gond tribes for 10 days. Tribal people from Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh belonging to the Mesaram clan offer prayers at this festival.

A month back, the boys from the Utnoor Chatralayam partook in a Vanabhojanam. Vanabhojanam is an annual ritualistic picnic undertaken during Karthigai month in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is a cultural festival that celebrates our plant diversity with people cooking food under trees (amla) , offering it to the Gods and then partaking in the prasad.

Culture validation is an important component of the value-based education system propagated by AIM for Seva across its 104 Chatralayams. Our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati advocated that education complemented with cultural outlook would bring in self confidence in an individual. A child who is taught to respect the richness of his or her roots would eventually grow to become a confident individual who would contribute towards the progress of the nation.

FULLY BOOKED!

AIM for Seva partnered with Pratham Books and celebrated International Literacy Day on September 8 across our Chatralayams in Maharashtra. To make the event enjoyable for our older readers and younger ones, our students were given the option of choosing from two titles: ‘Gappu Can’t Dance’ (a Level 1 book written by Menaka Raman and illustrated by Krishna Chandan) and ‘The Weightlifting Princess’ (a Level 3 book written by Sowmya Rajendran and illustrated by Debasmita Dasgupta). It was a fun-filled session with our students from the Amboli and Rajgurunagar Chatralayams in Maharashtra having a gala time reading, narrating and enacting stories.

Last year, AIM for Seva partnered with Pratham Books, and our students from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana were introduced to ‘A Cloud of Trash’ (written by Karanjeet Kaur). The story is about a little girl called Cheekoo, who has a cloud of trash hanging over her head. This makes her very, very unhappy and, as we follow her story, we learn a little more about trash, and about keeping our surroundings clean. Our students across 16 hostels in both states read the story out aloud and enjoyed enacting it.

International Yoga Day

On 21 June, students across our Chatralayams got together and participated in International Yoga Day.

The students from the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Sembangudi, Tamil Nadu, displayed their yoga prowess in colourful attire. The boys from Bihar weren’t far behind. The students from the Sumitra Surma AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Bihar, did pranayamam and other exercises on the occasion of International Yoga Day.

Most of the students in our Chatralayams are safe back in their homes after the outbreak of Covid-19. We still have 250 students residing with us across 104 hostels. These students come from distant locations where transportation services have not fully resumed and they are being looked after by our wardens and coordinators.

Yoga is an important component of the value-based education model of AIM for Seva. Our 4,000 students across 104 Chatralayams do 30 minutes of yoga everyday.

International Women’s Day Celebrations

International Women’s Day was celebrated by the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, on  5th March.  The programme commenced at 10 am with an invocation followed by lamp lightning.

Professor .G. Punitha, head of department–English welcomed the gathering. Sri.M.G. Srinivasan, correspondent of the college presided over the function.  Dr. .G. Jayasree, assistant professor, department of Tamil, Government College for Women, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu, was the guest of honour.  Programme highlights included cultural performances, motivational videos, speeches and poems.

The women staff members were then honoured with gifts. Smt.V. Hema, principal in-charge, gave felicitation address. The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Professor.R.K. Brintha, assistant professor, department of Commerce.

CELEBRATIONS

Our hostels across India bore a festive look this season. We share some glimpses of major celebrations across our Chatralayams.

  • Karthigai Deepam

The Atmalaya Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu geared up for Karthigai Deepam in the true festive spirit.

  • Gita Jayanthi

Gita Jayanthi was celebrated in the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Amreli, Gujarat. This hostel is home to 30 boys. The decor was floral with our boys and other volunteers from the region doing group chanting on the occasion.

Gita Jayanthi was also celebrated at the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Chikhali, Maharashtra. This hostel is home to 42 boys.

Children’s Day Celebrations

November is the month of children. On 14th November, Children’s Day is celebrated across the country as a tribute to the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru who advocated for children to have a fulfilled education.

We share some snapshots of Children’s Day celebrations across our Chatralayams.

  • Our students from the Anaikatti Chatralayam, Tamil Nadu participated and won prizes in various competitions held in their school on the occasion of Children’s Day.
  • Our students from the S.Viswanathan Memorial AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, won prizes in fancy dress, elocution and drawing on the occasion of Children’s Day held in their school.
  • Our boys from the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Utnoor, Telangana, performed the traditional tribal dance form of the state – ‘Gusadi Dance’ on the occasion of Children’s Day celebrations held at the district collectorate office.
  • The Innerwheel Club of Mirzapur Samanway celebrated Children’s Day with students from the Seth Bhavani Das Binani AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. A general health check up for students was held as part of the celebrations.
  • Girls from the Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Belgaum, Karnataka participated and performed the traditional folk dance of Tripura on the occasion of Children’s Day organised by Kranti Mahila Mandal, Uma Sangeet Pratisthan and Ladies Wing – The Hind Co-operative Housing Society, Belgaum, Karnataka.

Festive Splendour Across Our Chatralayams

It is a time for colourful hand-crafted threads and eco-friendly Ganeshas. Culture validation is an important component of the value-education model followed across our 104 Chatralayams and 7 educational institutions. Our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati firmly believed that students would transform into confident and empowered citizens of India only if they understood the richness of our tradition.

AIM for Seva reinforces culture-based education through various ways. Be it the daily yoga regimen, music classes or festive celebrations, our student respect their tradition in varied ways.

On this festive occasion, we share our greetings to all our countless supporters – donors, volunteers, well wishers and others – without whom our journey of educating rural India would have been incomplete. The festival season has commenced across the country. Our Chatralayams and schools have all geared up in the true festive spirit.

Ganesh Chathurthi and Janamasthami

Our 39 differently-abled adult men from Krupa Care celebrated Ganesh Chathurthi in the true festive spirit. Similarly, Janamasthami was celebrated across our Chatralayams with many of our students dressing up as Lord Krishna.

Raksha Bandhan

At the newly inaugurated Swami Dayananda Saraswati Vidyalaya, Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, our students celebrated the day with handmade rachis. Our girl students from the Madhu & Rajkumar Nigam AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Unnao, Uttar Pradesh made beautiful rakhis.

Independence Day

Independence Day was celebrated across our network on August 15. On this occasion, the tricolour was unfurled and our students made a commitment to work towards the progress of the nation.

Founder’s Day Celebrations

Born on 15th August 1930, Pujya Swami Dayananda’s Saraswati influence on the world stage has been enormous.

A profound thinker, philosopher, spiritual teacher and one of the greatest masters of Vedanta, Swamiji’s influence on the world stage has been enormous.

He founded AIM for Seva in 2000 as a movement of caring.

On the occasion of Founder’s Day this year (August 15), we reaffirmed our commitment to the ideals visualised by our founder.

We share with you some glimpses of our celebrations.

Our students performed prayers and showcased their prowess in martial arts. Some students and hostel coordinators celebrated the day by creating awareness on fire safety.

College Times

The movement in Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu (the birthplace of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati), began in 2001. The Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, was set up in the same year to empower rural areas, especially women, through education. Today, Manjakkudi has evolved into a knowledge hub with 5,000 students from around 300 villages coming to study in 2 schools and college in the region.

The Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi offers 35 fully equipped and well-ventilated classrooms and 17 courses. We have 71 teaching and 63 non-teaching staff, a well-developed computer lab with 118 computers, a library with over 9,000 books and a 1,000-seater air-conditioned auditorium. We share with you some glimpses of the major events conducted in the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi in recent months.

KG Project Day

Anupam – Incomparable was the Project Day theme of the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu. The Project Day was held on February 14 in the school premises with class participation from Kindergarten (KG) to Class III.

Anupam was inaugurated by Sri. M.R. Rajagopal, Head, Wipro operations, Manjakkudi and coordinator of SDET (Swami Dayananda Educational Trust) activities at Manjakkudi.

In terms of themes, the Kindergarten section explored the world of fruits. Each class, right from Montessori to UKG selected a unique fruit as their project. The little ones did role play and sang rhymes and explained the benefits of fruits.

All the classrooms were decorated colourfully with student activities such as collage, colouring and glue work displayed on the soft board. A few of the students opted for a fruity fancy dress costume.

Students from Class I to III showcased their talents in maths, science and social science. The presentations included both working and static models. Twelve classrooms had different models, Students exhibited their talents in 12 classrooms .Each room have center model as follow–, 5 major lands, Indian states and capitals, rangoli using shapes like vegetable rangoli and solar system. The parents and other visitors were impressed with the confidence levels of the students as they went about patiently explaining the various project installations that were on display.

The principal of the Swami Dayananda Matric Higher Secondary School, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, Smt. Padma Raghunathan, parents and other visitors appreciated the efforts of the students and teachers. Based on the positive feedback, the school management has decided to have a project day, every term.

Sixteenth Annual Convention at Manjakkudi

The Sixteenth Annual Convention was conducted from 20 January 2020 to 26 January 2020 at Sri. G.R.Auditorium, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu. The main highlights were though provoking speeches on intangible cultural heritage that include artwork, monuments and ancestral values. In the evenings, the audience was treated to some spell binding dance and music performances on all 7 days.

The annual convention at Manjakkudi is structured as a cultural knowledge sharing platform that enables students from rural India to gain education of our vast heritage and traditions and also experience the aesthetic beauty by appreciating classical dance and music.

The 16 annual convention began with the lighting of the traditional lamp. Smt. Sheela Balaji, Chairperson & Managing Trustee, Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET) gave the welcome address. Dr.Alarmel Valli, director, Dipasikha Dance Foundation, Chennai gave the inauguration and presidential address.

The week long convention saw a galaxy of speakers who dwelt at length on the contributions by the Imperial Cholas. Dr.Kodavayil Balasubramaniyan, an eminent epigraphist and archaeologist gave a lecture on ‘Cultural elements and art work of the Chola Dynasty.’  He said that the Cholas are one of the longest living dynasties which are remembered even today in arts, architecture, literature and culture. The monumental architecture in the form of majestic temples and sculptures in stone and bronze reached a finesse never before achieved in India. The following evening saw the inaugural musical performance by Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath with the Mangala Isai Nadaswaram of Sri. K.S.Sivasubramanian and group.

The second day, eminent historian, Dr.Chitra Madhavan spoke on ‘Rajendra Chola – the Greatness.’ She pointed out that temples and architecture of this time still serve to this ecstatic period of history. In her presentation, Dr. Chitra Madhavan showcased a series of images of the successful campaign led by the great Chola king and also shared how the king got the title ‘Gangaikonda Chola.’ For administrative and strategic purposes, Rajendra Chola built another capital ‘Gangaikonda Cholapuram.’

Chitra Madhavan’s knowledge sharing sessions continued the next day where she narrated how Indian craftsmen have been fascinated by figures from mythology. The ancient tradition of sculpting is still preserved in all its glory and at the same time artisans have innovated and brought in new forms of sculpting, working with diverse materials and exploring myriad themes. In the evening, the audience was witness to musical concerts by Sri. Ramakrishnan Murthy along with Kumari Sriranjani Santhanagopalan and Sri. N.Vijaya Siva. Sri. R.K. Shriram and group mesmerised the audience with a violin and percussion concert. The Chief Gueest were acclaimed choreographer and dancer, Dr. Anita Ratnam and Smt. Meera Chari, a senior enterprise architect.

On January 23, music historian and heritage activist, Sri.V.Sriram spoke on the ‘Trinity of Carnatic Music.’ He said that the collective contributions of the Carnatic music trinity to the Indian philosophy and spirituality were unparalleled. The compositions, handling ragas and talas and also the creative ability of the outstanding trio of composer- musicians were described.  In the evening, the Carnatic music concert of Sri. Sanjay Subrahmanyan and Kumari Bharathi Ramasubban were well received. The Chief Guests for the function were Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan, founder, Just us Theatre Repertory and carnatic musician, Dr.M.A.Bhageerathi.

On day five of the convention, Sri. D.V.Sridhar, founder, Yoga Rakshanam, Chennai spoke on ‘Secret of Healthy Body and Mind’ – from Patanjali Yoga Sutras. He explained the yoga philosophy of the asanas practice and how that can be applied in the fabric of our lives. Dr. Sridhar mentioned the eight limbs of yoga and the ancient terms related to do’s and don’ts (yamas and niyamas). The subsequent evening, a theatre play titled ‘Kurukshetra – When Things Fall Apart’ was enacted. The play written and directed by Dr.Gowri Ramnarayanan, playright director and founder Just Us Theatre Repertory. The Bharatanatyam  performance – ‘Hara’ of Sri. Parshwanath Upadhye, Punyah Dance Company depicted the spirit and beauty of art.  The chief guests were Sri. Victor Banerjee, renowned actor of many languages and Smt. Sharmila Biswas, artistic director, Odissi Vision & Movement Centre, India.

On January 25, Dr. K.Manivasagam, assistant professor of Tamil, Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu gave a presentation on ‘Ayurveda, Food and Yoga’. He emphasised that eating the right food is an essential part of living a yogic life. A demonstration of yoga practices by our students followed. Following that, Dr.Kodavayil Balasubramaniyan, an eminent epigraphist and archaeologist gave a presentation on Darasuram Airavateshwara Temple which is a grandeur in sculptures and a store house with respect to the art and architecture of the Imperial Cholas. Later in the evening, a Manipuri classical dance performance by Sri. Sinam Basu Singh and group and was well appreciated by the audience. Dr Pramod Deshmukh, board of directors, AIM for Seva USA was the Chief Guest on this occasion.

On the concluding day, Sri. Niranjan Bharathi, poet and film lyricist who is from Mahakavi Bharathiyar’s lineage shared his thoughts on the life and poetry of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi. He described the lyrical outpourings filled with the tales of Bharathiyar. ‘The thematic multigenre production ‘Fire and Ash’ was performed with the concept and direction by Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan, playwright director and founder, Just us Theatre Repertory. Sri Vijay Kapoor, Acharya of Arsha Vidya Center, California, USA, was the Chief Guest.

A question and answer session took place at the end of every lecture series. Throughout the week, the Vedanta Talk Series of Swamini Brahma Prakashananda Saraswati JI and Satsang – the video presentation of Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s talks were also held.

The Morning Raga

Celebrated across India, navaratri is a time for worship, sacred offerings and classic music. Spirit of the Earth presents ‘The Morning Raga’ – an open house where nine talented musicians will take centre stage and perform classical compositions.

The joy and contentment derived from listening to classical music is unparalleled. It imparts serenity, peace of mind for both the performer as well as the rasika. Our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati extolled, “We have a profound form of music, unheard of in other cultures. Also through Carnatic music, one is in constant with the ancient dharma.”

Music is the language of emotion, and no art arouses emotions so deeply as music. We believe singing or listening to Carnatic music evokes positive emotions in a person. This navaratri, come and listen to the music over nine days.

Programme:

Date Name
29 September Kadambari Prasad with Acharya Pavithra Srinivasan
30 September Gopika Devarajan
1 October Chinmaya Arjun Raja
2 October Alladi Sumana
3 October Samyuktha Raghuraman
4 October Arya Karthikeyan
5 October S. Athmanam
6 October Tanvi Kamat
7 October Smt.N Visalakshi & Neelayathakshi

Dates: September 29 – October 7, 2019

Time: 10:30 am – 11:15 am

 

Spirit of the Earth, an initiative by AIM for Seva, was set up in 2017 to promote and encourage sustainable lifestyle practices. We believe that the planet’s resources are not merely a source for our consumption and personal gratification; like earth, we need to learn to share (vibhakthi), to give in abundance (vriddhi), provide nutrition (vrihi) and be compassionate (daya) – to render harmony in society. Spirit of the Earth is committed to increasing social impact, reducing carbon footprint and protecting the earth’s resources. The immersion centre operates as a non-profit outlet that sells organic artisanal heritage rice cultivated at our 40 acre farm in Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu. We also retail hand-crafted lifestyle products made by differently-abled adults living in Krupa Home. In parallel, our interactive workshops, events and discussions provide experiential opportunities that encourage people to move towards conscious living and through all this, we believe we can create awareness and motivate consumers to become contributors.

Ananda 2019

Ananda, the first of our fundraiser series, was held from March 7 to 9, 2019, at the Music Academy, Chennai. The proceeds from this fundraiser are being utilised towards Krupa Care, Chatralayams and our integrated community development initiatives at Manjakkudi, the birthplace of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

MARCH 7

A unique music concert by Smt. Bombay Jayashri Ramnath titled, ‘Chintaye Guruvaram,’ a tribute by the acclaimed artiste to her Gurus, who have led her on the journey of life and gone ahead to pave the path for her to walk on. The concert was a freshly woven production with narratives. Highlights included songs from the Thiruppugazh, and an accompanying dance segment by dancers Lakshmi Parthasarathy Athreya and Bhavajan Kumar.

MARCH 8

A theatre performance directed by Dr. Gowri Ramnarayan, titled Kurukshetra: When Things Fall Apart. An original play in English, it brought to life three characters from the Mahabharata:  Drona, the teacher of the Kuru princes, his wife Kripi, and their son, Ashwatthama. The play touched on their complex family relationship, the tug of war between duty and preference, and the final choices they made.

MARCH 9

A unique dance theatre production by Dr. Anita Ratnam, titled A Million Sitas. The performance was based on the stories of four iconic women in The Raamayana (Mandodari, Manthara, Ahalya and Surpanakha), and retold the epic from a woman’s perspective. The performance used sets and prop elements sourced from South Africa, South America, Malaysia, Japan and Europe.

Jagat Pavani Ganga 2018

The fund raiser, held on August 17, 2018, was presented by Revathi Ramachandran’s Kalasadhanalaya. The dance-drama-theatre presentation extolled the purity and sanctity of the Ganga with an underlying message to protect the hallowed river. The production interwove Bharatanatyam, classical Carnatic music, Garhwali folk music and mime and theatre, to depict the incomparable splendour of the Himalayan Ganga. The narrative was embedded in the tapestry of stories of the river and towards the end, the dance drama showcased contemporary issues concerning India’s most venerated river– pollution and preservation of the holy waters.

Nandalala 2018

On August 16, 2018, AIM for Seva presented Nandalala, A Nritya Natak, directed by Smt. Anitha Guha. Lord Krishna’s life was brought alive on the dais by the renowned choreographer’s ensemble, Bharathanjali, in this multilingual thematic dance presentation on Krishna. The mesmerising story of the dark hued Lord coupled with songs of composers like Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya, Surdaas, Meera, Narayana Theerthar, Jayadeva, (Ashtapathis), Oothukadu Venkatasubaiyar, enthralled the audience.

Antar Yatra 2016

‘Antar-Yatra – The Journey Within’ was choreographed and directed by Smt. Sharmila Biswas, a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee and founder of the Odissi Vision & Movement Centre, Kolkata. This magical programme, featuring nine dancers showcased a wide range of talent – three classical Indian dance forms, songs sung in six different languages, and included the art of shadow puppetry and ‘kollattam’- a rural game from Tamil Nadu. This dance-drama traversed the inner conflicts of a creative artiste’s mind, the thoughts, emotions, and paradoxes that are encountered during introspection and reflection.

Meera: The Soul Divine 2016

‘Meera-The Soul Divine’, an AIM for Seva presentation, touches the enchanting story of Meerabai, the princess who renounced the world in search of Lord Krishna. Ideated and executed by Padmashri awardee and legendary dancer, teacher and choreographer, Chitra Visweswaran and her team from the Chidambaram Dance Company, with music composed by Smt. Bombay Jayashri, featuring traditional bhajans, ‘Meera-The Soul Divine’ captured the hearts and minds of the audience.

NEW AND HIGH

In this section, we present to you the latest updates of new projects from the field.

  • New Hostel for Boys

The formal inauguration of AIM for Seva’s Chatralayam for Boys in Tondikatti, Karnataka was held on 28 December 2019. Located in Belgaum district  this 4,595 square feet Chatralayam will support and provide value-based education to 100 boys from the neighbouring villages.

The Tondikatti hostel project is supported by LIC Housing Finance. Last April, a Bhoomi Pooja of the AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Tondikatti, Karnataka was held. Guest and dignitaries from the nearby villages such as Bijaguppi, Bundikhurd, Kunnal, Kamakeri, Guttugoli and Hosakoti attended the event.

We thank LIC Housing Finance for supporting our journey in educating rural India.

New Block Inaugurated in College

The Bhoomi Pooja of the M and  N Block at the Swami Dayananda College of Arts & Science, Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu,  was done on 5 March. The function saw participation of the staff and college students.

The main block has been expanded and now measures 16,760 square feet.  We thank India Nippon Electricals Limited and Lucas Indian Service Limited, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, for supporting extension work of the main block.

The donor of the N Block measuring  Block  measuring 26,996 square feet is Sri. Sandeep Raheja of Unique Estates Development Co. Limited. We thank Sri. Raheja for supporting our cause of educating rural India.

Caring for life

This is an institution that is built on care. Swami Dayananda Krupa Care provides care for the family, extended family, resident and the society at large by providing lifetime support to adults (men) with developmental disabilities. This facility provides answers to the big question confronting family members—‘Who After Me.’

Spread over 10 acres and located in Maduvanakarai in Sriperumbudur, 40 kms from Chennai, Swami Dayananda Krupa Care, Tamil Nadu provides lifelong care and individualised assistance in a spiritually uplifting living space.

We have 37 residents in the campus who live in a safe, secure and hygienic living environment. Swami Dayananda Krupa Care is built on 4 Cs:

  • Compassion for the aged parents
  • Compassion for the extended family
  • Compassion for the resident
  • Compassion towards the community

Our residents are engaged in various therapeutic activities throughout the day. The aim is to improve their happiness quotient and overall well being. Such activities include marbling, Goshala upkeep, nursery management, weaving and agarbatti making.

As we have created a proven model, the next step is make Swami Dayananda Krupa Care into ‘A Centre of Excellence’ for adults with developmental disabilities by adopting an integrated approach.

We are planning to build a resource and training centre, an activity centre, health station, expansion of living spaces and construction of other ancillary infrastructure.

If you would like to support us, please contact us at + 91 -44-24987955/66 or +91-9500060153, or write to us at contact@aimforseva.in

New Year: New Hostel for Boys

The formal inauguration of AIM for Seva’s Chatralayam for Boys in Tondikatti,  Karnataka was held on December 28 2019. Located in Belgaum district, this 4,595 square feet Chatralayam will support and provide value-based education to 100 boys from the neighbouring villages.

The Tondikatti hostel project is supported by LIC Housing Finance. Last April, a Bhoomi Pooja of the AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys, Tondikatti was held.

Guest and dignitaries from the nearby villages such as Bijaguppi, Bundikhurd, Kunnal, Kamakeri, Guttugoli and Hosakoti attended the event.

We thank LIC Housing Finance for supporting our journey in educating rural India.

A glimpse into the Swami Dayananda Vedapatshala

Manjakkudi is the Janmabhoomi of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

Pujya Swamiji was the foremost teacher in Vedanta in modern times. In keeping with his vision, the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust is committed to conserve, preserve and propagate Vedic studies through the Swami Dayananda Vedapatashala located in Kodavasal- near Manjakkudi–a place steeped in history.

  • Started in 2006, the Vedapatahala runs a 7 year course that teaches mantrams and yagnams, and is run by expert faculty members.

World Disability Day celebrated at Swami Dayananda Krupa Care

It was a clear morning and a big day.  About 42 kms away from Chennai, the residents of Swami Dayananda Krupa Care got together to celebrate World Disability Day in a very special way.

The 10.5 acre facility located at Maduvankarai, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu bore a festive look with colourful festoons, balloons and decorative rangolis greeting the guests. World Disability Day was celebrated in the premises with Mr. B.Charles Prabakaran, assistant director Commissionerate for the Disabled Welfare, Tamil Nadu presiding over the function. Dr. Sathyodhan from the medical department at M/s. Delphi TVS was also part of the function.

The parents and extended family members and staff from AIM for Seva central office also participated in the function. The programme began with Bharata Desa Hitaya and it was followed by the lighting of the lamp.

Special Parent—Support Group by Swami Dayananda Krupa Care

In line with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3), Swami Dayananda Krupa Care has launched a Special Parent- Support Group.

It’s critical that parents of a child with special needs have a good support system in place. Besides learning to cope with the unique aspects of their child’s disorder, such a network will also help them learn how to manage their feelings and emotions when faced with the challenges of raising a special child.

The Special Parent-Support Group aims to provide a platform for parents of special children where they can meet each other and discover, through their common experience, and in turn act as a support for their peers.

At each meeting, a specific topic will be delivered and appropriate guest speakers will be invited on a regular basis as part of continuous education and training efforts.

This initiative is spearheaded by Dr Radhika Soundararajan, Director, Swami Dayananda Krupa Care. A psychologist by training, she will equip parents with clarity of intellect to deal with the challenges of life, using the principles of psychology and Vedanta. “We would like this Support Group to evolve as a network where the participants can eventually have access to all information and other requirements with respect to developmental disabilities,” says Dr Radhika.

Topics Include:

  • Orientation – Understanding Myself, Understanding My Child
  • Day to Day Living
  • Stress Management
  • Positive Interventions
  • Sibling Relations
  • Communication Challenges between child and parent
  • Explaining Grief

Date: Every Alternate Friday, starting from December 6, 2019

Time: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

This is an open group. All are welcome (no fees will be charged). To register, please call +91-95000 82142.

Welcoming Retreat

The ‘Swami Dayananda Saraswati Memorial Centre’, now renamed ‘Jnana Pravaha’, was inaugurated by Swami Paramarthananda Saraswati on March 19, 2018, at Manjakkudi, the birth place of our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati. Gathered for the auspicious function were revered Swamis and Swaminis from across India, dignitaries and devotees of Pujya Swamiji.

Located at the heart of Swami Dayananda Campus in Manjakkudi, Tamil Nadu, the centre has been carefully designed. Spread across 3,106 square feet, it is built of teak wood and has been dressed with sandstone flooring. The exterior brims bright with traditional red oxide floor, solid wooden pillars and a sunken garden area with granite that creates a picturesque welcoming view.

Jnana Pravāha is equipped with a lecture hall with all attendant facilities like comfortable seating arrangement for around 40 students and a dais for the Acarya, audio-visual facilities and a white board for class-room sessions. The acoustics and air-conditioned ambience with adequate lighting in the presence of Pujya Swamiji’s murti presents a calming study-friendly ambience.

Dipped in quietness, Jñāna Pravāha is a welcoming destination for Vedanta retreats, lectures, discussions and meetings of AIM for Seva. The centre has an archive of Pujya Swamiji’s three-year courses as audios, e-books, a library of Swamiji authored books, reading room and is a complete aesthetic and spiritual hub.

AIM for Seva is in Such Great Hands!

AIM for Seva is formally set to launch a new hostel building for girls in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. Once functional, this building will be able to accommodate 50 girls. In the first phase, 15 of our girls who are currently studying and living in a rented Chatralayam facility in Dehradun will move to the new building. One of AIM for Seva’s supporters recently visited the upcoming girls Chatralayam in Rishikesh and came back impressed with with our efforts to promote rural education. Here is his account:

“I had a great opportunity to visit Rishikesh recently and got to see some of AIM for Seva’s activities in the region. There is a girls’ hostel in the area that currently operates out of a rented space. Last year, a very generous donor from Seattle, Mr. Shyam Oberoi, decided to sponsor the building of a brand new hostel so that those girls can have a permanent space and more girl students can also join the facility. I was joined on this trip by Mr. Oberoi’s son, Rajat, and his daughter-in-law, Nidhi, plus some of our other family members from India.

The purpose of my visit was to interact with the girl students and also do the inaugural pooja of the new hostel building which is almost ready to move-in. As a bonus, I got to visit Pujya Swamiji’s ashram in Rishikesh and saw his mahasamadhi.

The current Chatralayam houses 15 girls who study in a local private English medium school located nearby. The girls greeted us all with a beautiful welcome song in English. The girl student ranging from 8 to 16 years are super excited about learning and studies, with maths being a favourite subject for many. Many of them dream to become doctors or teachers.

The new three story building sponsored by donors from Seattle and will become operational by mid-November

As part of the inaugural, we participated in a traditional pooja ceremony. The Ganesh pooja was followed by a navagraha homam.

On the whole, it was an emotional and eventful visit. After meeting the girls, we are even more convinced that by providing access to underprivileged children to benefit from good education, we can get them out of the poverty trap.

My faith in the efforts of AIM for Seva was enhanced further after meeting Swami Hamsananda Saraswati ji (the coordinator of AIM for Seva’s projects in Uttarakhand). He has dedicated his entire life’s work to AIM for Seva! He loves the children and he supports them as his own kids and the kids in turn adore and respect him tremendously.

His warmth and caring is infectious and after meeting him I felt so confident that AIM for Seva is in such great hands!”

‘Gau’s’ that! Dairy milk from the heartland

Located on the banks of Chozha Choodamani, a tributary of the Cauvery, is Manjakkudi, a small hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvarur district.

The Swami Dayananda Educational Trust (SDET), an implementation partner of AIM for Seva has embarked on an integrated community development initiative in this village since 2003. As part of societal transformation, one focus area has been the running of a unique dairy farm that supports sustainable farming.

The Swami Dayananda Goshala was set up in 2012. At the time of inception, the goshala housed 30 cows. Seven years down the line, this figure has almost quadrupled to 104 cows.  The project has provided the villagers a sustainable means of livelihood. The Trust has employed nine farmhands from in and around Manjakkudi to supervise and maintain the goshala 24*7.

We are happy to share that a simple dairy farm project has resulted in community participation across levels.

All the 104 cows are fed with high quality fodder. The primary feed is natural grass which is supplemented by healthy cattle feed that comprises sesame oil cake, wheat/rice husks, maize oil cake, molasses, and combo feed.

In addition, the Swami Dayananda Educational Trust has also appointed a veterinary doctor to oversee the health and well being of the animals round the clock. The Joint director, Animal Husbandry, Tiruvarur district, visits our Goshala thrice a month and gives us valuable suggestions regarding their maintenance.

And as the cow is venerated in our tradition, we have ensured that these animals are fed and looked after well at all times. Our cow-sheds are well ventilated and we follow the best hygienic practices and eco-friendly principles when it comes to day to day running of the goshala.

We prevent the older cows from entering the slaughter houses by buying them and housing and tending to them with love and care in our goshala.

Such efforts have borne fruits. As the fodder given by us is of superior quality, these local / domestic / home breed cows produce thicker milk which is of high quality. A daily yield of 85 litres of organic milk is sold to state-owned milk cooperatives in the region.

On a lighter note, our goshala imbibes the pluralistic Indian tradition – all under one small thatched roof! We have indigenous cows from the four corners of the country. There are local breeds from Haryana,Tharparkars from the deserts of Rajasthan, Gir from Rajkot and Amreli districts of Gujarat, Red Sindhi and Sahiwal from Punjab, the Punganur variety from Andhra Pradesh and Umblacherry from Tamil Nadu.

Rice to the Occasion

As part of a collaborative project with The Park Chennai, Spirit of the Earth presented six varieties of artisanal heritage rice at the ‘Rice of Change’ food festival held last month.

Executive Chef Ashutosh Nerlekar and Sous Chef Wayne came up with a menu which crossed borders. The rice, though wonderful when cooked and topped with ghee, found its way in a spectrum of dishes like the Portugese falboured soup, caldo verde; the bisi bela bath was stirred together with a strain called the Acharmati, but had broccoli and asparagus. The chefs ensured that the flavours and the fragrance of the rice grains were intact, but gave each dish a twist.

“It was very interesting to get associated with Spirit of the Earth. There is so much in food that is to be explored. These ancient rice varieties are interesting to handle, to see how each grain is different from the other in terms of texture, aroma and taste. To add to that, these grains are grown organically, needless to say this is the way forward in terms of healthy eating,” says Ashutosh Nerlekar, Executive Chef, The Park.

Through this festival, Spirit of the Earth not only introduced and spread awareness of these long lost grains, but also reminded us that rice – the grain that is gluten-free and non-allergic – can take many avatars, if only we give it a chance.