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Shraddhaa For Youth, Jaahnavii For The Entire Family

Swathi Krishnan
07/10/2008

“Suprabhatham!” a cheery voice calls out in Samskritam. The daily wake-up call has been announced. As I groggily open my eyes, I repeatedly ask myself why I am even awake at 6:00 in the morning… during the summer! Eventually (after a few short doses back into the wonderful realm of sleep), I ready myself for another fun-filled day at Shraddhaa, a camp for teenagers to learn the beautiful, but uncommon spoken language of Samskritam.

I first became interested in Samskritam when I took a break after I completed middle school to learn dance and music for a year at Kalakshetra in Chennai in 2006. My mom was taking Samskritam classes, so I tagged along with her to attend a couple of classes. It was there that I began to appreciate one of the most ancient, rich, and melodic languages. As one of my Shraddhaa teachers said during the camp, “Everything just sounds better in Samskritam. Take the word ‘tree’. Compared to English, ‘vrikshah’, just sounds more majestic!” After returning to the U.S in 2007, I was determined to learn to speak Samskritam. When I first heard about Shraddhaa, I was excited that there was actually a camp that teaches people my own age.

Shraddhaa was a completely new and exciting experience for me. First, it was my first time away from home at a sleep-away camp. Second, the entire lifestyle was completely different; this was nothing like the Parent Trap! Everyday, before breakfast, we had a forty-five minute yoga class, an excellent way to stretch and really wake up in the morning. Apart from learning different exercises and postures, we learnt the famous Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation. We repeated this every day… about 12 times!

Besides yoga, the actual classes were extremely well taught and a lot of fun! Having teachers only five or six years older than me made the classes more enjoyable, and they personally inspired me to speak in actual Samskritam. In just one week, I was able to speak basic sentences in Samskritam. It was also interesting to note that Samskritam had many similarities to Latin, which I study at school, like a third gender besides masculine and feminine.

At the camp we learnt Samskritam not only through classes, but also word games and many different entertainment programs, or manoranjana kaaryakramah, in the evenings. During the manoranjana, many students performed skits, dances, and songs, all in Samskritam.

After telling my parents how much I enjoyed Shraddhaa, my family and I have decided to attend Jaahnavii, a Samskrita Bharathi camp for the entire family. Jaahnavii is a great camp for the entire family, like my dad who learnt Samskritam in school or my sister who hasn’t learnt Samskritam before, to get introduced and be part of the revival of Samskritam.
When I first told some of my friends that I was going to a week long camp to learn spoken Samskritam, many were asking questions like, “Samskritam? I didn’t even know people could still speak that language!” This reaction is the reason why Samskritam is slowly fading as a ‘dead’ language. Without people to continue speaking and teaching new generations, this amazing language will slowly be part of the many languages which are considered ‘dead’. I am amazed and inspired by Samskrita Bharathi’s goal in trying to make India’s most sacred language more prevalent. Shraddhaa is a great way to allow teenagers to learn Samskritam. After all, it is our generation who will continue to spread this knowledge in the future

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The website for the recently concluded Sanskrit youth camp Shraddhaa2008 is
http://www.speaksanskrit.org/shraddhaa2008/

Information including online registration for the upcoming labor day weekend Sanskrit family camp Jaahnavii2008 at Edison, NJ  is available at http://www.samskritabharati.org/sb/jaahnavii

For general information on Samskrita Bharati visit http://www.samskritabharati.org/ or email samskritabharati@yahoo.com or call Samskrita Bharati Voicemail  978-268-8406

(Swathi Krishnan is from Connecticut and will be a 10th grader next year. )

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