This is one of the long pending articles from my end and got delayed in the wake of terrorist attack. This will cover a bit of my Christmas experience with Maher, India (NGO based in Pune). Maher, India had organised a cultural and sports festival over a period of three to four days to celebrate Christmas and New Year. This time I was accompanied by my mother. Considering usually my articles start as I to emphasize my personal journey but in essence they are all stories with messages to highlight exuberance of mankind.
The day began with many sports which were organised for students of Maher. Sports included Cricket, Handball to name a few. Many people including tourists from abroad had come to celebrate and volunteer for social service. There were people from Europe including German volunteers who come every year for long time to assist Sister Lucy and others in providing help to underprivileged people. I have interacted with many German volunteers in other NGOs also and this is a great initiative by the German Government to encourage and facilitate German citizens to engage in various humanitarian initiatives around the world. I am deeply impressed by all of them who at a very young age go to different countries especially emerging economies and selflessly volunteer for social work. Its remarkable in two way; one that they get an experiential exposure in the countries which helps them to understand the challenges governing at grass root level and get an exposure into the culture prevailing. This helps them to get a much better perspective about countries than from reading books and magazines. Also, it helps them to adapt and impart best practices to help humanity and encourages creativity by coming out with different customized solutions.
There were many people from all walks of life. I met a teenager from London who was visiting family in India and had stopped over at Maher while a family had come from Austria to celebrate their young daughters birthday by volunteering in Maher. Paul works in social sector in Austria had visited Maher with his wife Silvia
and daughter Judith, to celebrate Judith birthday.
Very thought provoking and judicious, considering to imbibe values in children its very important to start at a young age. Bernadette Hill,a native of England regularly visits Maher in India. She has worked in banking sector in technology for most of her life and now spends time travelling to India and other countries for social work. (Pic Clockwise Paul, Sister Lucy, Bernadette, Mother, Silvia and Judith). There were a couple of other people with whom I had limited interaction.
A lady from Pune had come with truck load of gifts for the children. A sumptuous lunch was organised for everyone. In the evening a huge ceremony was organised for the nearby villagers wherein they were facilitated and free gifts were given to them. Post the ceremony free dinner was organised for all the villagers living nearby. More than hundred of them had come to partake dinner and gifts. Moreover was appraised that during Diwali celebrations more than double the number of people turn up for celebrations.
Everyone including all the foreigners had come dressed up in traditional Indian clothes and looking dazzling in the attire. It was really heartening to see everyone happy and relishing delicious food. Found it really refreshing to serve all of them food while got an opportunity to carry Baby Jesus in a procession following little angels to rest Baby Jesus in the small stage lovingly made by everyone. I decided to attend the evening mass considering I had never attended one in Christmas. Got an opportunity to meet many Brothers from the Church. Brothers are volunteers who have been selected to become Priests. Brothers I met were from congregation of present Pope Francis. I got to know how rigorous it was to become a priest. The selection of the priests is highly selective and they go through 12 -15 years of rigorous academia as well as humanitarian work before they become Priests. They are taught courses in Philosophy apart from other eclectic subjects and they need to finish Theological degree before they are ordained as Priests. They have to follow strictly three moral precepts including that of celibacy. They learn teachings of Buddha, Vedanta apart from other other religious doctrine. I met Brother Amos and Brother Ashish among others. We again met and visit Gurudwara. ( Above Pic with Brother Amos and Brother Ashish ) Bother Amos is from North East and entertained children by playing guitar.
They learn Yoga and most of them have learnt Meditation and Mindfulness. Many of them have attended 10 day Vipassana courses and it seems it forms at integral part of their pedagogy. The best part is that they are also involved in physical sports and learn martial arts. This is very useful considering martial arts evolved as right to self defense and highly desirable for people in spiritualism and humanitarian causes to protect themselves as well as others against atrocities. I found all this information very enlightening and insightful.The whole progression to become a Priest is structured with an attempt to develop spiritually both in experiential manner through mindfulness and spread goodness through humanitarian work.
We had an evening mass to wrap up the ceremony. It was very pleasant and everyone was happy. In the end it was a fantastic day and was great to see people from all walks of life regardless of religion very happy. This is one of the best ways to remember Jesus who sacrificed his mortal life for the betterment of mankind. Jesus all his life spread compassion and brotherhood and stood for equity for all. Good way to celebrate Christmas is to remember Jesus qualities while working selflessly in holistic initiatives. I would have loved to attend other cultural events but unfortunately got sick.
Be Happy Be Peaceful