Teaching valuable Hindu traditions at home and at school
Teacher Gayatri Maharaj has done her part to pass on Hindu traditions and culture to her children as passed down to her from her mother from generation to generation,
“Really, the role of women is very important, especially when it comes to maintaining culture,” she said. “If women don’t insist that their children be part of it, everything collapses. That’s what I see, although there are some really strong men who know what they want for their families and who would lead as well, ”she said in a candid interview from her home in Biche.
Maharaj and her husband, Pundit Rickie Maharaj, are the parents of two young adults and a teenager – Jyoti, law student and author of two novels; Rajkamal, who is studying accounting degrees; and Divya who will participate in the BBRI (forms five exams) this year.
From birth, her children were exposed to Hindu traditions, embracing spiritual enlightenment by their guru, the late Professor Hari Shankar Adesh, founder and director of Bharitiya Vidya Sanstthaan (BVS Institute of Indian Knowledge).
They are also proficient in the Hindi language, play classical instruments and take an active role in the many festivals.
His family also runs a school that teaches Hindi and classical music. Maharaj plays the harmonium and the sitar. Her daughters also play the harmonium and sing, and her son sings and plays the tabla.
“My husband also plays all of these instruments and sings too.
“We all support each other, which is essential for transmitting traditions and maintaining the traditional way of life.
“We perform in groups with other disciples and since the lockdown we do every month
satsang (songs and discussions on topics that affect everyday life) via Zoom. “
Her family, she said, begins and ends her days with a natural routine of devotion, exercise, yoga, and hearty vegetarian meals that she learned to cook with her mother and mother-in-law. She has learned to combine the two women’s preparation methods to produce her own unique taste.
While Hinduism is considered the oldest religion in the world, Maharaj believes that customs deeply rooted in TT are slowly being replaced by the strong influence of Western culture.
She attributes this, in part, to the changing role of the Hindu woman from a domestic creature to a professional worker who stays at home longer.
“Growing up in my home in Arima, there was always someone who didn’t work and at home to make sure the children did their morning and evening rituals and went to the temple.
“Now, while both parents are working and the women are tied to their work, there is no one to insist that the children maintain and follow the religious teachings.”
She observed before the pandemic, when temples were open, that the congregation was mostly made up of women and that there was an absence of children.
She said children, bogged down with homework and other activities, are not forced to go to temples or participate in traditional events because parents give them the option to choose.
“Parents jump in their vehicles and go to the temple, leaving their children at home, so the children are not exposed to the point where they feel comfortable with their traditions and lose them.”
As time passes and society changes, Maharaj has dedicated his life to making his children feel comfortable in their own skin, keeping the culture and traditions alive.
His beliefs have also transitioned into his classroom at Shiva Boys’ Hindu College, Penal, to help shape his young charges so that they have an appreciation and awareness of their rich ancestry and the benefits that can be derived from them. teachings of the Holy Scriptures in the Ramayana and the Bhagavad Gita.
Non-Hindu students also learn to adopt the teachings for their enlightenment.
“Growing up, it was the women at home who insisted that these things be done. The men didn’t care.
Fortunately, this disparity is not the case in her married life, as she has found the support of her husband and father.
“Here (at her home) my husband and his father are fervent defenders of culture and its integration into their families. This is what they preach and practice naturally. They also do their best to reach out to the men to ensure that they take a more active role in ensuring that their children come to the temple.
“It really is a family affair, but if women continue to focus on their profession – which is important – and neglect to integrate the values of culture and tradition into the lifestyle of their children, then there will be no inheritance to pass on.
Usually, on the day the Indians arrive, his family participates in a march that ends with a cultural event. With the pandemic and the rules against getting together, she said her family will cook their traditional sweets and meet at home to watch Indian movies.