Beginning SIP (Sangh Internship Program) has made me become more aware of the environments that I am in. The 1st Abhyas Varg (development workshops) taught us to observe our surroundings, engage in conversations by actively listening and influencing the context of the discussion. This may seem simple and straightforward but taking that step back and noting how you react in these situations is very intriguing.
As part of SIP, we are to visit a different swayamsevak’s house each week. The swayamsevak I visited wasn’t exactly different, as am always at their house every so often and the enticement of idli sambhar was too much to resist!
Some of his family were there, from the young children to the elderly grandparents. After the chatter and the delightful food, a bhajan (Indian devotional song) session was about to commence. At first I thought, I’ll sit for sometime and then slowly make myself scarce. However the weather became unpleasant so I decided to stay until the weather subsided or until the chance came for a cheeky lift back to my house.
As I stayed seated I noted that the bhajans were sung with utmost devotion and perfection, the added effect of the tabla and harmonium playing together enhanced the environment around me. Even though I didn’t quite understand the bhajans there was an overwhelming calmness and enjoyment.
Offers to sing were open to everyone, I for one wasn’t going to offer myself as singing bhajans isn’t a forte of mine and I haven’t exactly got a singing voice to be proud off! However…. I was forced into singing. I didn’t sing a bhajan but a geet, “Mukti Ka Mantra Do”, “Mantra of Liberation”. I did my best to sing with the same devotion and perfection as everyone else did and after I’ve finished I sat there with a huge smile on my face!
It made me think; when I was younger I always deemed bhajans to be boring and something that the elder members of our community do every so often. As an individual I don’t sing bhajans on a regular basis, my family don’t sing bhajans, the only times will be at the mandir or in the car playing off the CD. However taking part showed me the impact bhajans can have. Members of the family, from the young to the old are brought together creating a peaceful and happy environment. Even though I didn’t understand the meaning behind these bhajans, I felt the warmth and bond between each person in that room.
I see the family as a representation of our community. If one's family isn’t together then how can the community, be together. The community would exist as small pockets of people disunited. It is only where we are together, our troubles ease and progress is made. David Cameron has highlighted the importance of family values and it’s relation to the structure of the community we live in.
Relating this back to the bhajans, there are families that actively perform bhajans on a regular basis, but there are people like myself, in particular the youth who don’t attend bhajans. I saw that performing this act could bond and keep individuals together. Something that I regarded as boring has a meaningful purpose behind it and important lessons can be learnt. So next time when your mum or a friend asks if you want to go sing bhajans, think about it, take part and experience it!
Geet: Mukti Ka Mantra Do