Next Generation Hindus Embrace Sri Lakshmi Temple
Sri Lakshmi Temple of Ashland has shown remarkable progress in attracting the next generation of Hindus. During my frequent visits to the temple at Ashland in the past 19 years, I have seen a good number of activities organized there to attract the youth of our community. Sri Lakshmi Temple was envisioned by the founders as a common place of worship and as an institution for passing on our culture and religion from the current to the next generation.
Yet, the mere building of a structure and consecration of deities is not enough to propagate our culture and heritage to the next generation of Hindus. We need effective programs and events that are conducive to Hindu youth from diverse backgrounds from all parts of India, and other countries as well. To achieve this goal, we have sought the help of local music and dance teachers to share their resources and create programs at the Temple. This has been successfully done through activities such as: Carnatic Music Composers’ Day; Trimurthy Day in honor of the trinity of maestro composers -- Sri Tyagaraja, Sri Shyama Sastry and Sri Muthuswamy Diskhithar; Nadhanjali -- an annual musical event associated with Navarathri; Nrityanjali, as a part of Mahashivaratri celebrations; Krishnanjali, as a part of Sri Krisha Janmastami; Hindustaani Music Day, Garba during Navarathri, the Graduation day pooja for graduating high school students and encouraging the Hindu students from the local colleges to visit the temple through funded bus trips
A second means of teaching and preserving our culture within the community is to hold events in cooperation with other organizations that have common or shared interests with us. The Temple has taken a small step forward in this direction by introducing Holy celebrations, Ramanavami celebrations and Krishna Janmastami in collaboration with other local groups, each of which serves a different community of Hindus.
Considerable efforts have also been made to bring children of ages 5 to 12 to the Temple by starting Bala Vidya Mandir, a weekly class that imparts Hindu heritage to them via sloka classes, bhajan singing, yoga, and other educational and religious activities. The Temple has also built a small playground for the children. These activities provide an early opportunity for children to get connected with the Temple at a very young age.
The resources in our broader community can also be used to enrich our youth involvement. Sri Lakshmi Temple is tapping artists to promote our culture and heritage among our children and youth. In this regard, the Temple will be hosting a special dance event -- “Episodes from the Ramanayana” -- on Saturday, 9th May 2009. This event is unique because it presents a child prodigy -- Kumari Shraddha Nagaraj – with the idea of encouraging children in the local Hindu community to aim high in their chosen fields of interest. The local community of dance teachers has again stepped up to the plate by working with the YCEP, (Youth, Cultural, and Education Programs) Committee of the Sri Lakshmi Temple to make this a grand event. This program will give an opportunity for the attendees to network and socialize during the pre-show exhibition, which is also organized by the local dance teachers. Kumari Shraddha Nagaraj has volunteered her time for this event as a noble gesture. Several local business owners are supporting this event by advertising in the souvenir, and many restaurants have donated the food for the complementary dinner after the dance program.
I urge all of you not to miss this fabulous program. The proceeds will fund future YCEP activities, which will help us to engage our children and youth in ways that will help them develop into the next generation of proud members and leaders of the Hindu community.
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