India is a civilisation nation and our cultural diversity is well acknowledged and respected. Since its inception, AIM for Seva has focused on building capabilities by imparting culture based education to children from rural India.
Our founder, Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati advocated value and culture based education to students from rural and tribal parts of India. The reasoning was that only a child who knows the richness of his or her cultural tradition would grow up to be a confident person and contribute to the nation’s progress.
Our Chatralayams and educational institutions have emerged as cultural learning centres. Many of our Chatralayam students have bagged top honours in Tevaram and Tirumurai recitation competitions in the recent past.
And AIM for Seva continues to keep up its date with tradition even during the lockdown. A group of teachers from the Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Kadalur, Tamil Nadu, are currently undergoing training in chanting and sloka recitation. ‘We had embarked on cultural classes for students in a small way during the last academic year (2019-2020) itself. Buoyed by the response, we are looking to make this more mainstream and we plan to hold a class on culture and values every Saturday for 2 hours for all the 700 school students,” says Swamini Gurupriyananda Saraswat ji, coordinator, Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Kadalur, Tamil Nadu.
And here is the big surprise. The 35 teachers from higher secondary are being trained by 4 Chatralayam students from the Atmalaya Swami Dayananda AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Girls, Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu. Course contents include Shodashopachara Pooja, Thirupallandu and Thiruppavai.
Through this weekly cultural class in the school premises, we hope to help students to mature emotionally and spiritually under the guidance and supervision of trained teachers. Already, the teachers have started to impart cultural lessons to students residing in Kadalur village.
The Swami Dayananda Rotary Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Kadalur, Tamil Nadu was started in 2005. This educational project was part of a larger rehabilitation effort undertaken by volunteers of AIM for Seva in the tsunami affected village of Kadalur. Today, 700 students from Kadalur and neighbouring villages are enrolled in this institution with many of them belonging to the fishing community.
Meanwhile, the students at the Dharmapuri Chatralayam in Tamil Nadu have learnt the art of making vadam. A culinary heritage product from south India, the specialty of these vadams is that they are handmade and sun-dried.
In terms of preparation, the traditional and time-tested methods were employed. The vadams were sundried in terraces for a week on plain white cloth. Through such initiatives, AIM for Seva hopes to improve the skill base of children from rural India. This in turn would open up avenues for self employment in the food, beverage and catering sector for enterprising students.