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On Sunday 20th November all our Mauritius sishyas turned up at at Domaine de Lagrave, a nature reserve down the south of the island. At 9.30 AM Bodhinatha and the swamis arrived and were welcomed by the sishyas present. Then we all gathered under the covered terrace to listen to Bodhinatha. The Guru talked about the need for the Church to nurture our youth who are children of the members. Bodhinatha introduced the new workbook entitled "Character Building." Then the whole group broke into teams for an energetic treasure hunt in the forest of Lagrave. Sishyas went up the mountain slopes and were back after two hours. Then we all had lunch together. After lunch Bodhinatha met each youth individually and gave them a personal copy of the Character Building Workbook and a small crystal as a gift. At another corner of the place the adults were enjoying a game on singing. Later the men and boys played some football. It was a wonderful fun day and everybody returned home happy and with good souvenirs.
One of Gurudeva's teachings to all his sishya was to encourage respect, care and nuture of our elders. He promoted the idea that elders should live near temples and have an opportunity to pursue spiritual life. Of course this can only happen if we teach this ideal to the next the younger generation
Sishya, Thondunathan, is very active in the Tamil Sri Lankan community and he write: "One of the important goals of my teaching mission is to encourage our youth to love and respect the elderly and learn from them. Whenever I visit Canada, I accompany my students to the elderly homes and we sing, play instruments and entertain them.
In July, when we were at one such home, one of the residents named Mr. Mohamed (of Pakistani origin), told us that day was his birthday. We wished him a happy birthday; later, one of the nurses told us that Mr. Mohamed did not have a family, and even on his birthday no one visits him. The next day, we went back to see Mr. Mohamed, sang "Happy Birthday," gave him gifts and lots of hugs. Yes, tears began to roll down his face. We told the children that this is Sivathondu - "Service to God." It was a great learning experience for the students.
In Sri Lanka, once a month, students travel from the neighboring schools to our Sivapoomi Elderly Home and perform cultural programs for the elderly. The elders love the programs and they look forward to them. So, whenever I am in Sri Lanka, I give talks in public schools, and one of my main topics is always about loving and caring for the elderly and the needy.
I hope and pray that more and more schools and parents in the East and West will get involved in this kind of Sivathondu, and give their children such a meaningful firsthand experience of life and service.
About the photos: Our visit to the eldely home in Canada in July, the Sivapoomi Elderly Home and some of the school talks in Sri Lanka in March of this year.
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