Hindu Prachaar Kendra Hosted Successful Fund Raising Dinner
Photo: Balkaran Ojah and Family
I went to the Fund Raising Dinner of the Hindu Prachaar Kendra last Saturday (June 24) because I felt it would provide me the opportunity to interface with so many of my friends whom I was confident would be present. In addition to Nelson and his wife Ivy, I was delighted to meet their sons as I alighted from my car. During the course of the evening I met and interacted with several individuals whom I came to know through my active involvement in the community.
Narace Toolsie and his family were present. I also met Ravi Bharati and Sagan Nanansingh who served with the Hindu Credit Union. And there was also Diaram Maharaj of Arouca who still support every activity in the Hindu community. Balkaran Ojah & Family and members of the Chacachacare Sanjeevini Hanuman Mandir and Prakash and Family from San Juan were present along with the members of the Amar Jothi Sabha of Cunupia.
Passage to Asia, the venue for the dinner, is today a landmark in Chaguanas. Located in Yeates Street, Chaguanas this business has evolved over the years into a leading center for entertainment. I was proud to know that a Chaguanas business family can provide such fantastic facilities with the ambience and décor that a group like the Hindu Prachaar Kendra can access for a fund raising dinner.
Photo : Prakash Singh with family
But the highlight of the evening in my opinion was Geetaji, the President of the Mandir. She has remained committed to the Hindu cause. Her speech (which I missed but was emailed a copy) outlined the purpose of the dinner. I learned from her speech that the Kendra has been in existence for 34 years. It then dawned upon me my long association with the Kendra, Raviji and its members.
In her greetings she thanked the people for supporting this fund raising dinner. She reminded the audience that the philosophy or aim of the Kendra is not to build buildings but to build people. “Raviji started his community work to build people, to build a confident, vibrant Hindu community, not to build buildings because many buildings already existed. So with whatever resources were available he worked all across this country recruiting and training young Hindus through satsangs, camps and creative cultural events. His focus was on Hindu identity and enlightened citizenship. Some of his students now manage their own dynamic institutions and communities.”
Photo : Raviji with friends
Geetaji went on to rationalize the value of a mandir according to our Shastras. She said: “We have always felt that we have a mandir and we belong to a mandir because a mandir is the place and space for not just rituals and the whole range of traditional Hindu calendar events but it is a centre for community work, for outreach and a training ground. Our shastras have laid it down very clearly for us – that it is equally about Devasthan and Sevasthan – service to the devis/devtas and community service.”
Such an outlook has been lost or misplaced in Trinidad and Tobago. Most mandirs have lost focus whereby the focus is service to the devis and devatas while ignoring the community. I feel confident that this re-alignment of the philosophy and role of the mandir would help to put our community back on track and help stem the tide of conversion of Hindus to fly by night cults and exclusivist outfits disguised as religious organizations.
Photo : Sarran Nanansingh and Family.
Geetaji pointed out that Raviji has been teaching about sanskaar and even such teaching need a physical structure to execute such development of our human resources. Geetaji outlined three phases of the project:
- “The 1st phase will be to erect an additional structure with classrooms for Heritage Vacation Courses – our current flagship project, a new kitchen and storage area;
- “The 2nd phase will be to work on the ‘mandir area’ by redesigning the building that already exists; and
- “The 3rd phase will be the cultural grounds and parking.”
Rana Mohip and Band was at hand to provide entertainment to the more than five hundred patrons. The music and the singing were superb. Young and talented Vijai Ramkisson and Akshay Kandoo rendered hits of the 1960s that had the rapt attention of the audience.
Nelson Ramdeen remarked: “It is really nice that Hindus can come together and enjoy themselves in an environment like this without the need for alcohol.” It was as if Nelson was reading my mind. When I left I could have only concluded that the Hindu Prachaar Kendra is not static but alive and evolving; that it has the ability to mobilize its human resources to fulfill its aims and goals.