About Another Community or Culture

Date: 27 Oct 2010
Time: 4 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.
Member present: 12 ex-students of DCS

man_milan1The topic for discussion was "Something about a community or culture other than yours'". 12 ex-students of DCS course were present.

Neelima spoke about Atheists i.e. people who do not believe in the existence of God. She told about their simplicity in occasions like marriage. They drape a white saree without any jewelery or makeup. They also have a registered marriage and the garland used in the marriage is made of vegetables which is later be used for cooking. She said that their simplicity was the one that she admired the most.

Meera spoke about Christianity and their concept of thanks giving. On thanks-giving the Christians thank for everything that is been given to them, they get-together on a particular day and bring along fruits and vegetables, and say a thanks-giving prayer. Meera said that this was interesting because once in a year they have a chance to thank God for his blessings and people become aware of their blessings, this will help them live a better life and also have a better attitude in life.

Surekha mentioned about Jainism. She spoke about 'Pratikaman', it is meant to ask for forgiveness, and appreciate gratitude, it also meant to let go of the past and live in the present without the influence of the past. Surekha said that this helped people to become more pro-active. Jainism also followed this method which helped people to share their sorrow or misery to anybody, but restricted to 3 people only. This helped the person to liberate himself from the burden of sorrow and will also help him to move forward towards his betterment.
Surekha narrated an incident where an elderly lady (Surekha's friend's mother-in-law) who was in her last stage of life wished to do the ceremony of 'Pratikaman'. She wanted all the family members and friends to be present, when all gathered she asked for forgiveness and passed away peacefully.

Rose mentioned about the various rituals in Hinduism and Islam. She said that her son-in-law who was from Gangtok was very disciplined and he celebrated a ritual before Diwali in which he confessed his mistakes and asked for forgiveness. Rose also spoke about the rituals where in Hinduism the youngsters touch the feet of the elderly to seek their blessings, this interested because of the amount of respect that was paid to the elders. Rose also explained about how the ceremony of new birth is celebrated at Gangtok, everybody is welcomed and they are given a specific food which has a boiled egg which symbolises the new life. Rose also hilariously mentioned about a ritual in Rajasthan where the wives get to beat up their husbands which takes place once every year.

Man_milan2Jennie mentioned about the month of 'Ramadaan' and its significance. She said that the month was a time when everyone can cleanse their body. She also appreciated the activities that people do during that month, it is also considered as the month of forgiveness and charity.
Jennie also mentioned the concept of fasting in various religions such as Hindus fasting on Shivarathri and Ekadasi, she said that fasting once in a year helps in improving the health conditions of people.

Sapna spoke about the Anglo-Indian community. She mentioned that the cuisine interested her the most. It was a mixture of Indian and Continental food. She also mentioned the names of a few dishes which brings back nostalgic memories of the bygone era to many, such as Grandma's Country Captain Chicken, Railway Mutton Curry, Madras Pork Curry, Dak Bungalow Curry etc. They are also well know for home made festive treats such as Cakes, Sweets, Christmas goodies, Puddings, Sandwiches, Preserves, Home-made Wines etc.
She also said how the Anglo Indians had pioneered in various fields. Anglo-Indians distinguished themselves in the military. Maurice Barker was India's first Anglo-Indian Air Marshal. At least seven other Anglo-Indians subsequently reached that post, a notable achievement for a small community. Air Marshal Wollen is often considered the man who won India's 1971 war.
The Anglo Indians have also contributed largely in the field of sports. Norman Pritchard became India's first ever Olympic medallist, winning two silver medals at the 1900 Olympic Games which brought glory to India. In cricket Roger Binny was the leading wicket-taker during the Indian cricket team's 1983 World Cup triumph. Wilson Jones was India's first ever World Professional Billiards Champion.
The ICSE was started and built by some of the community's best known educationists including Frank Anthony. Also in the field of entertainment, Katrina Kaif and Miss World Diana Heyden are hugely popular personalities.
Sapna also mentioned that the Anglo Indians are known for their good cheer and are a fun loving lot and they are also known to be very generous and hospitable. One can find them serving in various capacities such as secretaries, teachers, nurses and also not to forget, as engine drivers.

Sheela spoke about the concept of Marriage preparation or Marriage counseling that takes place in the Christian community. She also explained about it saying that it was a mandatory procedure where couple have to attend the counseling before marriage, this counseling cover various topics which pertain to marriage and its significance. Sheela felt that this was a very useful concept as it gives an insight to marriage and prepares the bride and groom for a better life, it could also solve many problems and issues that may arise after marriage. She also said that this concept should be made mandatory in all religions, as it was a meaningful concept. Sheela also mentioned about the concept of 'Confession' in Christianity. She said that was good concept wherein the person confessing has realized his sin and comes forward to accept the mistake and ask for forgiveness, the confession can reduce the burden of the person and help him to lead a meaningful life.

man_milan3Partha started by saying that he felt that he was in full harmony with himself and was ready to accept any kind of principles or concepts in his life. He recalled his childhood and said that there was a hunter's family that lived in his neighbourhood and he said it was very inspiring to see the way in which they lived in complete harmony. He said that one should not only accept the good things in life but also the bad ones. Mr. Partha mentioned three important aspects required to have harmony within oneself:

  1. Responsibility: Responsibility was an important aspect and it included responsible for everything and everyone around. Partha explained that he felt responsible towards his family members, friends and the society.
  2. Discipline: Partha said that one should have discipline in life. By discipline he did not mean religious followings or observations. By discipline he meant he meant about learning various things, improving one's knowledge and accepting various thoughts in an unconditional way.
  3. Freedom of mind: According to Partha freedom of mind was an important concept as, when there is no freedom there would be a chattering of the mind and this in turn would lead to various health disorders. Having a free mind would always help in accepting everything in life.

Azeem spoke about Sudan where he stayed for a few years. He said Sudan was a place which faced drought and famine to a very great extent. He said that there were times when there was a power cut which lasted for more than 48 hours. He also mentioned how the local people fought the natural calamities, they would give away all their earnings to the distraught people who were not in a position to earn a living. Azeem said that he would always wonder as to how people could share their hard earned money with others without any hesitation.

Reema spoke about the concept of 'Thanks-giving' in Christianity. She narrated her childhood experience, and said that she was going for her tuition classes to a Christian family. One day she got the opportunity to have dinner with the family and it was Thank-giving day, she was amazed by the concept as it gave an immense satisfaction to the members when they thanked God for various gifts they had received. Another fact which surprised her was the amount of ease in which they came forward to narrated their stories about their blessing without any shyness or hesitation. Everybody in the family thanked God for every single blessing that they received.

Asha spoke about her brother's wedding ceremony that she had witnessed. The girl was from the Coorgi community and hence the wedding rituals and the ceremony also took place according to that particular community. What interested her was the fact that the wedding was not performed by a Priest, but by the eldest member of the family. She said that this made a lot of meaning to her as she saw a wedding a family affair and it was only sensible for the eldest member of the family to administer the ceremony.

Ali narrated a story about the Arabian traders who were called as 'Binooks'. These traders led a harsh life as they wandered the desert to various places for trade. One of these traders had no possessions except his camel, but was very hard working. He was a business minded person and so made a lot of wealth and went to possess property. He was also married and had children. Since he was illiterate he was not aware of the banking procedure and stored all the money at his house. One day he came back from his business to find his home on fire. He was informed by the people that they could not save anyone or anything from the fire, which meant that he had lost his family and his wealth. The people who were gathered were eager to see how the man would react. The man was first in shock, he later took his mat and offered his prayer of 'Namaze Shukrana' i.e. the thanks giving prayer. The people were shocked to see this and asked him why he was giving a thanks-giving prayer when his entire house was destroyed, the man patiently answered the question and said " I had never thanked God for all that he gave me, hence I do not have the right to complain to him when he takes it away from me. So I have to start by thanking him first."

He went on to say about the changes that is taking place in religion in India. He also mentioned how the younger generation is becoming more and more spiritual in their own way using various approaches, following spiritual leaders such as Sathya Sai Baba, or joining the AOL. The is a new concept evolving in the present generation. In the U.S. The number of church goers has reduced at a high rate whereas in Russia which was under the influence of Communism for about 6-7 decades there is astonishing increase in the places of worship once the communism ended.

Ali mention about two groups of people one 'Agnostics' and the other 'Atheists'. Agnostics are the one who are not sure about the existence of God and Atheists are a people who do not believe in the existence of God. He also mentioned about a book authored by Mr. Richard Dawkins titled 'God Delusion'. The books argues in the favour of Atheists in a logical way and also in a manner which is non-venomous.

He also narrated an incident that took place in England. A church collected a lot of fund and utilised it to put a poster on the double decker buses that read 'God is watching you'. Many people felt very uncomfortable looking at the poster at every place that they went. One of them collected funds and put up another poster on all the buses that held the first poster which read ' Most probably there is no God. So enjoy Life'. This came as a relief to many people.

Yashoda narrated a story about a Shepherd boy who was speaking alone when he went to gaze the cattle. A saint observed this and asked the boy whom he was speaking to. The boy answered that he was having a conversation with God. The saint immediately felt frustrated with the boy and told him that there was a particular manner or method in which one had to address God and taught him the same. After doing so he returned to the temple and told God about the incident and asked God whether he was correct in doing so, the God immediately answered that "By teaching the boy your method you have only created a huge distance between me and him".

Azeem narrated a story where the teacher of a class kept a few boxes of chocolates and put a piece of paper on it which read 'Take only one, God is watching you.' one of the boys' seeing this wrote another note and put it on the second box of chocolates. It read 'Please take how many ever you want, God is busy watching the first box."

Ali narrated another story about two boys who were very mischievous. They either broke things or misplaced them. The parents were worried about the children and decided to ask the advice of the Priest. The Priest decided to teach the children a lesson and asked the parents to bring them to him. Once the children were brought to the Priest he took one boy into the office instructing the other boy to wait outside. At his office the Priest started giving a long lecture about being good and about God watching all his activities etc. The Boy did not understand what the Priest was telling and was bored and distracted. The Priest was annoyed seeing this and said "Do keep in mind that God is watching all your activities. Do you know where God is?" the child did not know how to respond and was silent. The priest felt more agitated at this behavior of the boy and repeated the same questioned again and again. The boy felt alarmed by this he jumped out of his seat ran out and told his brother "Run! This time God is lost and they are blaming us for it."

He also narrated another story. There was an empty plot in the middle of the town and people threw garbage and started using it as a urinal. Due to this the whole place started to stink. Everyone only complained about this but no one came forward to clean it up. A young man saw this and decided to clean up the place. He spent every evening cleaning the place and planting sapling, watering them etc. after a few day this place became a beautiful garden, the young man continued his work of looking after the place. One evening when he was watering the plants a priest passed by the park. He was pleased to see the place and appreciated the young man for his efforts. He also said "Look young man you have not done this alone". The man was puzzled and asked the priest for an explanation. The priest said "Yes young man, you have not done this alone, God was always there with you. You and God have together done this." the young man answered "OK father but you should have see this place when God was taking care of it alone!"

Later a discussion was held comparing India to the other countries. Ali mentioned that any news in India would be known to us, may it be the CWG or the politics, but the happenings in China or Japan is never known to the outside world. In India we have every right to protest unlike in other countries. Supporting this Ali narrated a story about a dog which lived in a village in India which was located on the border of India and Pakistan. He was fed with the left-overs from homes in the village. Once famine hit the village, and it was a bad situation as people did not find anything to eat. The dog discovered that there was food in the neighboring village of Pakistan and decided to go there. He began his journey through the desert and saw another dog that was migrating from Pakistan to India. He was shocked to see this and asked the dog why he was coming to India when there was more food in Pakistan. The dog answered "You get to eat a lot in Pakistan, but you are not allowed to bark."

Ali recalled another incident in one of the reputed Schools in India in the year 1992-93. he was there for a talk on religious harmony, through which the students learnt about various religions and Ali was called to talk on Islam. He asked the student s to write any questions or doubts they wanted to know the answer for. Many students wrote down their thoughts and questions. Ali then collected the papers and read through them one by one, when he came across on slip in which he found written in foul language. The student had addressed Ali in filthy words and had also written asking him 'Why are you still in India, Why cannot you go to Pakistan?'. Ali read out the note to all the students. He also said that the bad word used their was their complement to him and he was liable to answer the question. He went on to say that when Pakistan was formed his family decided to stay in India and got married and had children. When Ali grew up he felt India was the best place to stay and was proud of it. Ali also said he told the student "You are all Indians by chance, you were born in India and have no choice but to stay in India, but I am an Indian by choice." the principal of the school was very furious when he heard of the behavior of students and apologized to Ali. The also requested Ali to give him the piece of paper to him so that he could punish the boys who had written it, Ali refused to do so and also demanded an assurance form the Principal of not taking any action against the boys. With great difficulty the Principal agreed, when Ali approached his car he found two boys standing by the car, they confessed to Ali about their mistakes and apologized to him.

Ali closed the discussion by mentioning that people should do something to inculcate religious harmony.

The next Mann Milan is scheduled to 19 Nov 2010 and the topic is 'What motivates maid servants and how to build a better relationship.'

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