Tag: Family/Relationships

A Unique Bond

A Unique Bond


In wake of terrorism’s spread across the globe, love is our only hope. Love is the only antidote to acts of hatred. St Francis, in his famous prayer, entreats God: "Where there is hatred, let me sow love." Last week, over two hundred students from Thane sowed the seeds of love when they celebrated Rakshabandhan in a unique way. Ninety boys and girls in need of special care bonded with more than 150 students from 12 different regular schools including DAV Public School, Holy Cross Convent, Hiranandani Foundation School, Saraswati Secondary High School, St. Lawrence High School, Little Flower High School, St. Carmel High School, and Bharat English High School.

The children were participating in the ninth annual inter-school Integration Programme at Sri Ma Snehadeep School for Mentally and Physically challenged and Visually and Hearing impaired.

There were many highlights of the programme that deserve a mention. The special children had crafted their own rakhis, which they sold to the guests (children). They also welcomed them in the traditional style with haldi, kum kum and flowers.

Later they sang Rakshabandhan songs. The special girls tied rakhis to MLC Sanjay Kelkar, who was the chief guest and Sri Balagopal, director of the Sri Ma Group of Institutions among others.

The most touching moment of the event was when girls from the special school tied rakhis to boys from regular schools and girls from regular schools tied rakhis to boys from the special school. The entire process of tying the rakhis was carried out by following the time-honoured ritual complete with kum kum, haldi, sweetmeat and Akshata (rice smeared with turmeric). Later, special children made friends with regular school children and interacted with them.

When it was turn of adults to speak, Chief Guest Kelkar appeared impressed with the special children. He said, "I like the term ‘special children’. These children are really special and, though challenged to varying degrees, are in no way to be undermined, for they have the abilities to perform and manifest their skills in various spheres of life."

Principal of Sri Ma Snehadeep, Manju Tejwani said, "I am so happy to see that you have made this function successful by attending it in such huge numbers (schools and students) despite the rains. You represent the society and it is for you to carry the message back that special children, if encouraged, can develop their skills very well. They don’t need sympathy; they only require your loving look. At least give them a pat or a smile when you pass by them. Many people don’t even look at them though they live next door. Remember, special children too have a right to respectful living."

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Love is our highest word and the synonym of God." In a way, the children showed us a glimpse of God.

Of super moms and more

Of super moms and more

Last Sunday the world celebrated Mother’s Day. But few know where the concept of celebrating Mother’s Day originated.

According to some, the earliest Mother’s Day celebrations began in ancient Greece in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the Gods. In the 17th century, England celebrated a day called Mothering Sunday when all the mothers of England were honoured. Because many poor men worked as servants for the wealthy, they would often live at the houses of their employers, which were located far from their homes. On Mothering Sunday these servants would have the day off and were encouraged to return home and spend the day with their mothers. That’s how the earliest Mother’s Day was celebrated.

Unfortunately today, Mother’s Day, like many other special days, has been reduced to a commercially driven occasion, with the pure intention of making profits. In the recent years, India too has joined the bandwagon of celebrating mother’s day. The greeting card and gift companies may use mother’s day to exploit our sentiments, urging us to measure our love for our mothers in terms of expensive gifts, but most Indians still know in their hearts that the value of mother’s love is immeasurable. In fact the joy of motherhood is in itself the greatest gift.

As children, the best gift we can give to our mothers it to love them unconditionally, because that’s how they love us.

To honour young mothers, Thane Women’s Guild (TWG), a city-based, all-woman, not-for-profit organisation celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday in a unique way. TWG conducted an hour-long programme with 50 city-based mothers of kindergarten children. Held at Hari Om Nagar, the idea behind the event was to provide an interactive platform to young mothers. Two guest speakers, Dr Bhabesh Mithya and Dr Suhas Kulkarni, both paediatricians, addressed the moms on the mental and emotional well being of their little ones. While Dr Mithya mainly spoke on nutrition and its relation to growth and development of children under five years, Dr Kulkarni talked about common health
problems, emotional needs of pre-school children and good parenting skills.

There was a rapid-fire quiz session on ‘Parenting Skills’, with questions ranging from child health and development of social skills to securing the future of children financially. The response to this session was such that when time ran out, the excited mothers requested that more such events be organised. A few working mothers felt that such programmes were a very effective means for de-stressing and unwinding from the working week’s demanding schedules.

The programme was rounded off by awarding prizes to ‘Super Mom,’ the ‘Most Promising Mom,’ and the ‘Future Super Mom’, all of who were spontaneously selected by the doctor guests and other panellists based on the questions and interactions of the participating mothers.

In spite of the tremendous responsibilities that accompany motherhood, the young mothers were evidently enthusiastic about discovering the joys of being young mothers.

Hello Brother!

Hello Brother!

Indians place a high premium on family and relationships. For us, love for family comes before wealth and material acquisitions. Much before the world began to celebrate days honouring specific relationships like friendship day, father’s day, and mother’s day, we Indians have been celebrating days that honour the purity of relationships. Take Raksha Bandhan – a festival that reinforces the bond of love between brothers and sisters. Not only does it foster ties within the family, it also strengthens the social fabric of our society as it extends beyond blood relations and promotes love and respect between individuals not related by birth.

Bond of Love

Year after year, Thane’s schools celebrate this event in wonderful ways, implanting Indian values in children, and ensuring that not only will the tradition be kept alive, but will continue to be celebrated with fervour in the future. Among the most touching celebrations of Raksha Bandhan is organised by the Sri Ma Snehadeep School for Special Children, situated at Patlipada. On Friday August 18, students from as many as 18 city-based regular schools, including Vasant Vihar School, Saraswati (Panchpakhadi), New English School, Hiranandani Foundation School, Bharat English High School, Carmel School, and St Xavier’s School, participated in the 8th inter-school Integration Programme.

It is difficult not be moved when you watch children interacting with their less privileged counterparts. It was a moment to savour when special girls from the host school tied rakhis to normal boys from visiting schools, just like normal girls from visiting schools established bonds with boys from the host school. The rakhis used were as special as the programme because they were all made by the student of Sri Ma Snehadeep.

The excitement of the special children was palpable and was adequately reflected in the welcome speech by a special student called Aniruddh Dongarkar. Addressing the visiting students, he said, "We’re happy that you all come when we invite you in spite of our school being located so far from the city. We’re thankful to you for accepting our invitation." The speech lasted for one full minute, an achievement considering that the Aniruddh is an MR child, and evoked a huge round of applause from the audience. The chief guest, R S Gurav, who is the Assistant Charity Commissioner of Thane District, too was visibly impressed by the programme and envisaged a bright future for all the participating children and also for the schools that encourage their children towards such noble acts.

The objective of the annual programme is to create awareness about special children among normal children. Students of regular schools observe special children, talk to them, see them moving around and singing before an audience and learn about their capabilities (such as making rakhis, selling them and so on). The interaction brings the special children closer to normal kids and also serves to dispel any wrong notions, if any, about special children in the minds of normal children. Special children need love and acceptance more than anything else and the Integration Programme was therefore a truly joyous occasion for them. The Principal of Sri Ma Snehadeep, Manju Tejwani, said, "Just a smile, an acknowledgement, or a simple hello by a normal child can brighten a special child’s day. If, as a result of this programme, a normal child sheds his inhibitions towards special children and reacts positively to them, I will feel the programme has achieved its objective." In fact, the Integration Programme may evoke more than a mere smile or acknowledgement from a normal child. For, the next time one of the participating girls sees a special boy, she will remember her rakhi brother!

All in the family

All in the family

"The dining table is a child’s first school: CBSE Director," is the headline of an article in The Times of India dated Wednesday February 25, 2004. G Balasubramanian, director of CBSE, was in favour of banning homework for students in class I and II as young children need space, love and quality time with their parents for their, which homework hampers. It’s true that parents have the biggest influence on the personality of their children and early childhood being an impressionable age, it is important that they spend quality time with their children.

Last Sunday, more than a 100 students got to spend a whole day with their parents, thanks to a unique "Parents Picnic" organised by the Garden School of Thane. Four buses took over 250 parents, teachers and students to Gorai Beach where they camped at a local resort booked entirely for them.

The little children enjoyed thoroughly as not only did they play lots and lots of games with their friends, but perhaps for the first time they saw their parents play just like them. There were community games, quizzes and treasure hunts for parents and the children were amused to see their parents running, competing with other parents, throwing tantrums and generally behaving like little children. Such opportunities allow the child in every adult to surface and also bring out the creativity in the adults. And that helps parents connect with their child at his/her level.

Social gatherings involving the entire family help break the monotony of everyday life and foster a better understanding between the child and his or her parents. Besides, it is important for parents to unwind from time to time. Most parents are so busy with their routines that they hardly get time to relax. When parents find themselves among their kind, there is mutual empathy that helps promote significant relationships. So, get-togethers such as these not only strengthen the parent-child relationship but also establish lifelong bonds between the families of the students. There are many instances of parents who met on such occasions years ago and have continued to meet long after their children leave the school.

The picnic was a wonderful time for toddlers of Gardens School who went back home with a sense of renewed bond with their parents and looking forward to the next such picnic. And next time, the School plans to take the grandparents too!

The Mother of Camps

The Mother of Camps

A typical Indian mother follows a rather predictable routine. From the time she wakes up in the morning to when she winds up for the day, her life revolves around her family which comprises of her husband, her children and, if living in a joint family, her in-laws too. Most mothers, whether working or housewives, hardly find any leisure time for themselves, let alone opportunities to learn new things.

Thanks to a two-day camp at Yeoor last week, several mothers from Thane took a much need break from their routines. The camp was organised specially for mothers by a city-based organisation called Renaissance, run by Tushar Pitale. Pitale, who’s a Thane resident, believes that mothers deserve a few days off from the everyday grind.

15 ladies mostly in the age group of 30-50 participated in what was called a Mummy’s camp. The two-day camp, held at a picturesque bungalow at Yeoor, was filled with informative sessions and training programmes on a variety of topics.

To start with, there was a session on Art of Living. Then they were taught ‘How to look impressive.’ Sessions on vegetable carvings, handicraft and cookery followed.   The demonstration of the technique of Ikebana left many women rather pleased. Ikebana, for the uninitiated, is the art of beautifully arranging cut stems, leaves, and flowers in vases and other containers that evolved in Japan over seven centuries

To address health related issues, there was a discourse on yoga and ergonomics. Issues like dental health, gynaecology, child psychology were also dealt with in separate conclaves. Self defence was taught using demonstration.

At night the women gazed at stars, an experience that many participants described as a return to childhood. Most of them said they had forgotten how heavenly beautiful the skies look at night, adorned with millions of shining dots. A high-quality telescope made star gazing even more delightful as many of them star-gazed late into the night.

A nature trail in the morning was perhaps the most adventurous few hours they had spent in years. Along with interesting information on flora and fauna that they received from the guide, they experienced several moments of sheer excitement.   At one time, the guide caught a chameleon in his hand, as the astounded women screamed. While they explored the dense forests of Yeoor, a few women expressed apprehensions over losing their way back.

Away from their families, the participants learnt a lot, enjoyed a lot and had a great time. But at the end of two days, they yearned to get back to their families and into their roles as mothers and housewives. Return they did, albeit emotionally recharged and armed with loads of useful knowledge.

Bonds of Love

Bonds of Love

Perhaps nowhere else in the world is the brother-sister relationship celebrated in such an endearing manner as in our country. What sisters tie around the wrists of their brothers on Raksha Bandhan are more than just colourful threads and decorative strings – they are symbols of love, affection and an enduring bond between the two. It does not matter much if the two are biologically related to each other. This was the essence of the Rakhsa-Bandhan celebration at a play school in Thane.

The Garden School celebrated the occasion of Raksha Bandhan in a unique way as little schoolgirls aged between two and half and three and a half years tied rakhis to boys of the same age. A day before the event, these little kids were acquainted with the significance of Rakhsa Bandhan – what it stands for and why. Parents of girls were asked to get rakhis and those of boys would get gifts. To ensure fair play, the school discouraged expensive gifts and rakhis and instead announced special prizes for the most innovative Rakhis and Gifts that would capture the imagination of the kids and also fascinate them. Parents were asked to bring rakhis and gifts on Friday itself so that they could be arranged well in advance.

What made this event really special was that the children were asked to select their own brothers and sisters. While boys could pick a sister they would most like to present the gift, girls could choose their rakhi-brother. Surprisingly, this whole pick-and-choose business went on quite smoothly as the little angles quickly became brother-sister pairs. They were then given the traditional aarti tray with kumkum, sweets and rakhi.

Imelda Rebello, one of the staff at Garden school, made an interesting observation, "It is not easy for a child to give away a neatly packed gift to another child. But we were surprised to see that the boys handed over the gifts which they had brought quite willingly to their brand new sisters".

Another staff member, Greta Dantin added "The gifts and rakhis were really nice. There was a rakhi made of tri-colour, another one had a miniature coconut on it with grains of rice. Among the gifts there was a bag with the School’s logo beautifully embroidered on it and a jewellery set made by a grandma of one of the boys.

I love my India
The Garden School also celebrates the country’s independence in a special way. The commemoration begins 15 days in advance, on August 01 when these pre-school kids are taught portions of the Pledge and informed and educated about India. Throughout the fortnight, kids indulge in various activities that are designed to inculcate a sense of patriotism early on.

Everything done during these 15 days reinforces the importance of Independence. Instead of the regular nursery rhymes, patriotic songs are played during the 15-day run-up to the Independence Day. Whichever child celebrated his or her birthday during these 15 days had special tri-colour candles on the cake. Rebello says "Curiosity often prompts the children ask why the tricolour and such acts go a long way in implanting the seeds of love for the country."  

On August 15, after the flag hoisting and singing of the national anthem, every child walks up to the stage dressed up as a national hero (not a   political leader, mind you) and utter a one-liner about freedom. This act builds confidence in the little children and once again reinforces a sense of nationalism.

After the celebrations, children are served with a sandwich, once again made out of the tri-colour – with sauce on top, cheese spread in centre and green chatni below.

Finally the children are presented with a book wrapped with a tri-colour ribbon and balloon and told, "If you wish to serve your country, you must first study well."

Judging by the celebrations, the last fortnight was eventful for the little children from Garden School – and whichever way you look at it, they learnt important lessons in love.

Grandma and Grandpa Day

Grandma and Grandpa Day

Someone once said, "Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting". Blessed are those children who have grandparents. Grandparents always have time to listen; tell fairy tales and put you to sleep. A grandparent mends clothes, keeps a candy handy, goes to the store with you even if he doesn’t need anything, sits with you while you do homework, reads stories with his eyes closed, takes you to the doctor even when you cry, plays games he can’t win, holds your hand at just the right times, and reminds parents that they were once little children.

With so many virtues, there ought to be day dedicated to grandparents. The teachers and students of Hiranandani Foundation School at Thane seem to agree.

On October 08, 2002, the pre-primary section of the School celebrated Grandparent’s day. It was a lovely sight as sweet little toddlers were accompanied by their grandmas and grandpas.

The event began at 10 in the morning with the customary prayers by the students. This was followed by some interesting performances by kids, all in honour of their beloved grandparents. Historical items, dance numbers and mythological plays – all featured.

Then, followed what was perhaps most thoughtful gesture of all. A student randomly picked any grandparent in the hall and presented him/her with a greeting card, with a message, "Happy Grandparents Day! We love you grandparents." All cards were created by the kids themselves.

After this, a game specially designed for grandparents, was played. A tray with several objects was circulated among all the oldies. All they had to do was to remember as many objects as they could and write that down on a piece of paper they were given. The one who recollects the maximum number of articles would be the winner. The nana-nanis and dada-dadis were struggling to scribble as time was running out. Finally it was Grandma Asha Gupta who walked away with the prize as she wrote down as many as 17 out of the 20 objects.

After a short tea break, it was time for grandparent to put their public speaking abilities to test, as they were invited to come to the podium and utter a few words about their grandchildren. It was an emotional moment as the senior moms and pops expressed how special their grandchildren were to them. One grandpa said, "My grandson keeps me busy and adds meaning to my old age" while a grandma declared, "Aditya is such an adorable child. He loves me and I love him".  

As the event came to closing stages, the grandparents were visibly moved with the way it was organised. There was joy and happiness in the air. And why not? Grandparents are always delighted to be around their grandchildren. Like Doug Larson once said, "Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap"

The programme ended with a recital of the national anthem and a vote of thanks by the teachers of the school.