In keeping with a trend that was started last year, the SSU celebrated Ganesh Chatruthi and Eid together on September 4th. Shweta shares her experience of helping out with and taking part in the joint inter-religious service for the first time…
"Service" is one of the primary goals of the SSU.
I will always remain grateful to the SSU for inspiring me to learn so much throughout. The youth today who have been labeled with tags such as arrogant, ignorant, and irresponsible seem to have stirred the winds of change in this nation. Being a part of the SSU helps us youngsters to introspect ourselves in order to realize are capabilities, abilities and also to attain faith in God. Being a part of the SSU has brought about a certain level of maturity in me as I came to realize that success in every aspect comes through 'responsibility'.
This draws me back to the memories of the PLEC which was held in Barco Hall, Camp on Sunday, the 4th of September, preceding our play 'Two by Two'. We were busy putting our best foot forward in our play practices and the collection of funds all for a noble cause. It was during this time that everybody was in the mood for celebration as the two festivals, 'Ganesh Chatruthi' and 'Eid' were eagerly awaited by one and all. I was glad to get acquainted to the fact that ever since last year, the SSU has a tradition to celebrate all festivals despite our diverse cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds. This year as well, we continued the tradition.
I was deeply inspired and enthusiastic about the idea of communal harmony brought about through the PLEC. The Ganesh Chaturthi - Eid PLEC required significant contributions from the SSU members. Initially, I was excited when I was asked to represent my culture in the form of Ganeshotsav, but also slightly in doubt as questions began to arise even on smallest of decisions and required thought. This did not last for long as I was immediately made comfortable by Dean, who did a fabulous job managing and systematically delegating responsibilities; ensuring everybody's participation. It was great to observe how everyone's contribution played a significant role as we cooperatively worked towards the preparation and presentation of the PLEC.
It was overwhelming to welcome Lord Ganesha (with the Puneri Pagdi in the bright red colour of the SSU!) by uniting to set up a beautiful ‘pandal’ with colorful decorations, lighting, garlands and ‘haralis’. Generally, it was often the man of the family who carried Ganapati to the pandal and the women who invited the deity home. But as I said earlier that we not only follow the tradition but also move a step ahead.
The idea of a girl placing the Ganesha idol was appreciating. Shrabosti considered herself honored to do so. Rhea, an excellent Bharatanatyam dancer, performed the ‘Ganesh Vandana’ gracefully to symbolize gratitude and prayer to the Lord in the form of dance. This was followed by the traditional ‘Aarti’, initially performed by Stuti and me followed by everyone taking turns to worship the Lord. I was absolutely stunned to watch Cyril, a Catholic priest humbly bowing down and performing the Aarti. It is not often that you find such a huge group working together, celebrating and being a part of each others festival with due respect. I consider myself highly privileged that I got the opportunity to interact with the inquisitive crowd about the significance of Ganeshotsav and the Ganesha idol along with Ria who was active in hosting the PLEC.
Fizza then contributed to the festival of Eid and enlightened us with so many facts about Islam, Ramzan and Eid that were unknown. It truly made us believe how beautiful every culture is. Also, this year's PLEC was based on the theme ‘India against Corruption’ and the Jan Lokpal Bill. The explanation of theme was done great justice to by Rohan.
The PLEC came to a grand end when everybody shouted in great joy ‘Ganapati Bappa Morya...Mangal Mutri Morya’ and enjoyed the ‘prasad’. The vote of thanks was then proposed by Dean. I witnessed everyone becoming emotional as Cyril spoke about his feelings about the PLEC. The over all response towards the PLEC was phenomenal and everybody appreciated our efforts.
It was a memorable evening as we were taken on a more spiritual (and less religious!) journey. This has been an extremely enriching experience on the personal front as it transformed me to grow better as an individual in terms of humanity and listening to my inner voice. It also boosted my confidence as it broadened my horizons. I thank Cyril who is ever so passionate about the tasks in hand and also my friends who are dedicated, but also warm , welcoming and fun at the same time. I hope we remain united and may God continue to shower his blessings on this diverse family of SSU. Cheers!