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Editor's Note - 6 (November 1, 2008)

E-Certificate For Top-Scoring Children; Need To Avoid Cultural Slant

Dear Fellow-Bhagavathas,

A double delight it is with the enthusiastic participation of children from across the globe in the Junior Quiz which was launched last month, to go with their excellent performance therein. As many as 26 children have got the top score and congratulations to them all. In fact, all these children deserve a pat. Credit for this must go to you elders for having made it a point to initiate your wards into the programme.

Swami Desika is a true colossus in our Acharya Parampara and the feats he accomplished during his wholesome life of 101 years are legendary and have been well documented. It would not be superfluous to say that the Sri Vaishnava lore would not have been complete without the presence of the Master along the line. His deeds, his multi-faceted brilliance, vastness of his works all ooze divinity and overwhelmingly point to the source, the root cause of all the effect — Lord Venkatesa, whose incarnation the Acharya is.

It is his blessing that the Children's Quiz should start off with an exclusive on himself. We can have as many episodes as we wish to on the great master. However, for the sake of providing overall exposure, we move on to the quiz of general nature from November. Also it would be much more challenging unlike a thematic quiz because the children may have to refer to different sources to know or get the answer confirmed. More the referencing, more the learning opportunity. It would be interesting to know how they fare in the coming quizzes.

As an encouragement to the top-scoring children, we have made available e-certificates, print outs of which can be taken by accessing 'Your Score / Answers' section of the Junior Quiz results page. We are sure the children would be quite happy about it.

Quizzes on specialized subjects such as this may not be the cup of tea of every child. It all depends on the orientation of the child, the ambience in the family, viz-a-viz the interest levels of the elders, the child's own preferences given the cultural slant that he is exposed to, etc.

Under the circumstances, it is we who should show the way to the youngster at our home and make him understand the values of our tradition. The 'feel factor' is very important. He should be made to feel 'at home' first in participating in activities like this before he reaches a stage where he takes pride in doing them. This cannot be achieved overnight, but it is a transitional process. As the saying goes, perseverance pays.

Talking of cultural slant, there was a Reader's Letter published in Sri Ranganatha Paduka a few months ago expressing anguish at the way the birthday of children is celebrated even in 'our' society and the increasing incidence of the same. He had mentioned that the practice of celebrating the same by bursting balloons and cutting cake, a la Westerners.

Though he stopped with that, it is not the full story. Besides, balloons are burst, candles are blown out and what is most gruesome is the cake that is cut would be in the shape of a boy or a girl as the case may be. One knows that bursting, blowing out, cutting… they are all basically acts of destruction and hence inauspicious. On a memorable day like a birthday when one needs to invoke special blessings of the Lord, parents and elders, are these all necessary?

One would think that Andal's “மேலையார் செய்வனகள் வேண்டுவன” has been totally misconstrued. 'மேலையார்' means elders and not Westerners! What it really tells us is we should take a leaf out of and follow the deeds of those who are above us, that is, elders. So, it is our responsibility to set the standards even in our day-today life for our children to emulate. As has been written in the previous Note, young minds are impressionable and they should be put to good use for ever-growing character enhancement.

If you know of any of 'our' people (neighbours/relatives/friends) engage themselves in such acts, kindly educate them that these are inappropriate for our culture. Spread the message to as many people and keep doing it. After all, an ocean is made up of little drops of water. You can surely make them count!

Meet you in the next Note.

எங்கள் தூப்புல் பிள்ளை பாதம் என் சென்னியதே!

Natteri P. Srihari (a) Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar

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