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Seniors In Connecticut Remain Young At Heart

Amishi Shah
10/16/2006


 
Picture this. A group of people playing musical chairs, singing songs back to back in a friendly antakshari game and gossiping about their family secrets. You would in all likelihood picture a children’s party or that of a gathering of college-going youth. But the thought of a seniors’ meeting doesn’t cross the mind. This is because when one talks of senior citizen groups or associations, the image that invariably comes to the mind is that of gray-haired individuals having religious discourses and singing bhajans praising the Almighty. What we talk about in this article is slightly different. The meetings and gatherings of senior citizens at the Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple Society (CVHTS) have been a good outlet for the senior citizens of Connecticut to keep them occupied. More importantly, these activities make them happy and feel young.
The gatherings are done under the aegis of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Hasit Parikh, a resident of Southington and one of the organizing members of the association said, “The seniors have their own problems to deal with and this monthly meeting serves as an outlet for them to relieve their tensions and enjoy their day at the temple.” Members are at the temple till evening and the activities keep them engrossed and smiling. These meetings take place from April to November, since after November, commuting becomes tough for the seniors with the winters setting in. Hira Mehta, a very active member and also a person who enjoys organizing these meetings said, “Apart from the monthly meetings, women meet for yoga sessions every week at the temple. There is no age limit for that and is open to youngsters too. In fact, we encourage youth to join this session.”

The members meet once a month at the Middletown Hindu temple of Connecticut. It begins with a prayer to the Almighty, followed by a yoga session. This attempts to give the seniors peace of mind and also to exercise their body. The various aasanas of yoga are done by sitting on the chair itself and not by sitting on the floor.

After a diligent session of yoga, there is a discourse by a religious speaker. In the month of September, a gentleman from the Swaminarayan sect, Vikas Patel came to deliver a lecture at the meeting. He spoke about the sect in general and that being responsible adults, we should pass on the ‘sanskars’ to the next two generation following them. These activities are done in the first half of the day.

Before the seniors have lunch together, a prayer is said and then lunch is served. Interestingly enough, the association members serve lunch themselves. The camaraderie they share is very warm. It feels good to see 70-year old men and women serving food to their friends with love and affection. “I come to the association gathering once a month as I get to see my friends and I like the activities that the group does,” said Daksha Vyas, an active member of this association.

Understandably enough, seniors look forward to this latter part of the day. Over lunch, the seniors get to know of the whereabouts of their friends and friendly gossip does the rounds of the table. An absolutely entertaining session of Antakshari or musical chairs follows lunch. The seniors enjoy regaling memories of yesteryears as they sing old and new songs alike. Musical chairs are equally interesting too.

With constant activities keeping the minds of the seniors occupied, it is already time for the afternoon tea. As the tea is served, some members prepare for the Aarti to conclude the day. Those members having their birthdays in the month of the meeting do the Aarti to pay their respect to the Almighty. This way everyone gets an opportunity to offer his or her obeisance to God. The members depart after the Aarti, looking forward to meet the following month.

The members take away different things from this day they spend at the temple. Some take with them a lighter heart home; some take sunshine along with them, while some take home the satisfaction of treading the religious path. “I live in Edison, NJ. But the associations of senior citizens are not so good as this one is. What I like most of this session is the satsang and the bhajans that the religious speakers do,” said Bakul Vaishnav, whose brothers live in Connecticut.

Another member, Khushvardhan Bhatt said, “I am a retired person. I come here because I get satisfaction by coming here and doing chores for others and being on the religious path”.

Coming to the yoga session, interested women get together once every week for Yoga. An instructor, Divyajyoti helps the women do different aasanas. Her main motive is to make the members feel positive and give them peace of mind. “My mind wanders a lot in everyday life. I come to the weekly sessions for concentration and to get a sense of calm,” said Kokila Parikh, a resident of Plainville, Conn. This session is open for young women as well. Sarita is a young lady who has recently begun attending this session. She said that, “I used to go for yoga classes in India also. But in India, the instructors always seemed to be in a hurry. They would not wait or explain proper breathing techniques while doing the aasanas. I like it here as the instructor is patient and waits till all students get it right.”

These are the diverse activities that the seniors engage themselves in. apart from the monthly sessions, there are other programs as well. Since festive season has come in full swing, the seniors had their Garba night and are now looking forward to the festival of lights to brighten them up – Diwali. 

Contact Mr. Hasit Parikh for more information on Programs
Tel no: 860-628-8978

-- AMISHI SHAH

This is Part 1 of a two part series on seniors



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