The Calm in Kamla and the Row in Rowley

Swaha congratulates the PNM on their victory. There will be more elections so they must examine the reasons for their opponents’ defeat and govern with ‘dharmic’ values. So too, the PP must examine closely the causes for defeat and move forward with a national unity agenda. Swaha was and still is available to all political parties if they wish to utilise our expertise and involvement in the national interest.

There are many after-the-event political pundits who all have the answers as to why the PP did not form the new government. Swaha is not in that category as we had spoken before the event. In our newsletter earlier this year we had intimated that July 20th or 27th would have been the most appropriate time for the election as all systems were in their favour and victory would have been assured. They did not listen. In our Indian Arrival Day celebrations we intimated that we needed to know who would be the persons appointed as senators and ministers. We did not get the answers. We said that there were certain persons who the PP government must not only distance themselves from but also address the issue of corruption in order for the population to be convinced that the barrage of serious allegations of racial and financial dealings emanating from these individuals were baseless or just mischievous. Our words fell on deaf ears.

Thousands of persons are hurting. Some because their party has lost and some because, given the nature of the Westminster system of government, persons will be replaced by the new regime, same as that which obtained when the PP government came into power in 2010.

Questions are being asked as to whether the PP government expected Swaha to behave as other Hindu organisations did in the run-up to the elections. Swaha does not condone the idolising and supremacy of leaders of political entities. Swaha’s position is that we will vote for someone based on issues and performance in office. We will not sacrifice our ‘dharmic’ values on the political platforms. When you throw the temple, the pundits and the Hindu following behind an individual and a political party, then, as in this case, when defeat comes all these persons become disenchanted. The repercussion of such an unethical act is the notion that your God and religious beliefs are really ineffective and inferior and second to your political belief. One hurting citizen told me that he thinks that the voting pattern can be construed as an ‘anti-Hindu’ vote as persons were turned off by the modus operandi of the ‘Hindu voice’ media campaign.

Politics now seems to be the flip side of ‘dharma’. Look at the ‘my leader syndrome’: the crass disrespect for values of respect, truth, cleanliness and seeing God in all beings. Just examine the political strategies that were employed. We are of the view that if you have a flower garden and your next-door neighbor also has a flower garden and you want your flower garden to look beautiful and healthy then you can do either of two things. One, you can take care of your garden with the utmost attention and meticulousness or you can cut down and spray poison on your neighbour’s garden, so no matter how poorly looking your garden is, it should still look better than your neighbour’s dried-up garden. This seemed to be the modus operandi of the political parties in the last elections.

The way forward is as follows: To have a chance of regaining power, the PP must act to clear all the allegations of corruption. The persons against whom these serious allegations were made must be given the Jack /Sharma/Anil/Glenn/Anand/Gypsy treatment.
The PNM must be perceived as a party for all people. The Calcutta/Lagoon assertions must be addressed. The population must not let ethnicity and religion be used as political tools. Let there be calm, no row, in our land.

By Pt. Gyandeo Persad

The Health Wonders of the Neem Tree

The neem is one of the many trees revered by Hindus for its many uses, among them, its religious, geological and afforestation advantages and many medicinal purposes. In India this tree is popularly referred to as the local pharmacy for the numerous ways that it can be used. Almost the entire tree can be used for medicine starting from the roots up to the leaves, flowers, branches, bark and seeds. Here are some common uses of the neem, a tree that can be found in the yard of almost every Hindu:
• The Neem twig can be chewed every morning after brushing the teeth. This helps to prevent bleeding of the gums and oral infections..
• The oil extracted from the neem tree can help to reduce wrinkles and treat skin conditions such as rashes and acne.
For the quick healing of external wounds, abrasions, sores and damaged skin tissues, a mixture of neem leaves ground with some hardi can be applied on the affected area.
•.A paste made with ground neem leaves is quite effective in the treatment of dandruff, psoriasis, premature graying, hair loss and eczema.
• People suffering from low blood circulation can drink neem tea because it promotes the creation of healthy blood cells.
• The tea is also highly recommended to diabetics as it helps to lower the blood sugar levels.
•The tea is also useful in providing instant relief from stress and nervousness.
• Hemorrhoids and bleeding can be prevented by drinking every morning a mixture of blended neem seeds in warm water.
• Neem oil can be applied externally in the treatment of rheumatism, sprains and in relieving joint pains and strengthening the bones.
• You can even use some Neem oil in your bath to relax your muscles after a busy day.
•The bark boiled with sugar and drunk eases stomach pains and colds and can be used as a mild antiseptic.
• A small amount of neem consumed on a daily basis will destroy the troublesome bacteria in the intestinal region, and the colon will generally remain clean and free of infection.

It does not matter what the health problem, one can use neem for almost all ailments. One should not wait to actually develop a problem. Instead everyone can use neem daily to boost one’s health and prevent a disorder before it has blown to a full scale. It is not by chance that the neem is known to be the wonder tree .

Nurturing the Hindu Adolescent Social Self

Many parents encounter the greatest challenge in raising children at the adolescent stage. This is because the adolescent individual is now undergoing physical (puberty), emotional and social changes all at the same time. These changes can be traumatic for the teenager who does not quite understand what’s happening to him or her. With regards to the emotional or mental changes, the brain, that part which processes thoughts now changes to allow one to become more logical and in a better position to think clearly. With regard to the social changes, a teenager’s friends become increasingly important and so acceptance by peers occupy centre stage in our children’s lives. Having said that, parents must ensure two things happen with their Hindu children in this adolescent stage of life.
Firstly, to successfully deal with the social changes, the friends of our teenage children must accept and tolerate them for being Hindus. The easiest way for this to happen is to make sure our children have a good supply of Hindu peers. Sometimes two or three genuine ones are good enough. The extended family relationships and contacts on a frequent and continued basis also help. Thus, if only for the sake of our children, we should maintain good relationships with our close relatives. The powerful institution called temple provides varied and wonderful opportunities for healthy peer interaction and sense of identity, through its many religious, social and cultural activities. Also, enrolling our children in hobbies like dance, music and singing provides additional opportunity for peer bonding. Not to mention the additional benefit of cultural identity.
Many of our children, because of the schools they attend, parents’ jobs and family’s place of residence, do not experience much Hindu interaction. In these cases, parents can encourage children to invite their friends at home for Hindu functions, events and celebrations. And I don’t mean only for the food! This can be a way for our adolescent children to establish their Hindu self and to let their friends know this is who I am and how I live. Experience has shown that this kind of interaction fosters tolerance and acceptance. Non- Hindu teenagers are even now conforming by attending Hindu functions.
In most countries, foreign embassies celebrate their cultural occasions by inviting all other ambassadors/embassies. This is how nations learn to appreciate and tolerate differences. This is how a civilised society lives. It is a shame that there is a bit of a stigma attached to being Hindu in certain cultural spheres in T&T. Hindu adults past and present have ourselves to blame for that. How is it that many non –Hindu teenagers never waver from their religious indoctrination in spite of their adolescence challenges as many Hindu teenagers do? Do you know why Hindus accept or tolerate other religions so easily? Perhaps it is because of the pride which others exhibit for their beliefs. We parents need to instil this Hindu pride in our children by nurturing good Hindu self-esteem in them. (To be continued next month).
Mrs. Mala Persad.

SWAHA SEA Academic Stars

Vickram Bisram
Youthful Vickram Bisram secured a place at Naparima Boys’ College, based on this year’s SEA examination. Vickram scored brilliantly at his school, Dyanand Memorial Vedic, taking home trophies for the best all-round student, Mathematics, as well as placing first in the National Mental Mathematics in St. Patrick and seventh in the country. He was recently honored by the temple he attends, SWAHA Kashi Vishwanath Mandir. The following is an address of appreciation made by this academic star:
My job is to let everyone know how the temple has helped us in our SEA exam. All the children of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir have been here before they could even creep. Parents did not just bring us to the temple because they were living nearby or because my father is the pundit here but because they wanted us to have good values.
Drama is an important part of the C.A.C. component for SEA. Most of the children including myself took part in the play for Divali so we already had experience in drama. Another part was an essay on Sports Day and every year I go to SWAHA Sports with my parents and the members of the temple so the idea was already there and it was easy to write.
The temple always arranges Saraswati Pooja for all the children so they perform better in school work. We all learnt that taking blessings from our parents, for example, bowing at their feet, helps us to succeed in all our endeavors in life. The Sunday morning service taught me time management because I had to reach the temple by 8.00am. The discourse taught me about taking responsibility for my actions, cherishing the time we have left on earth and it also teaches me to have respect for myself and others.
Sometimes my Dad lets me do the discourse and that taught me to be brave to do the valedictory speech at my graduation. A wise man once said that you must aim for the moon and if you fall, fall on the stars.

Aliyah John
Aliyah John succeeded in gaining her first choice, St, Augustine Girls’ High School, in the SEA examination. An active member of SWAHA Gyaan Deepak Kirtan Mandali and student of the Don Miguel Hindu School, this brilliant star was awarded prizes for the Most Promising student, student of academic excellence, the Principal’s Prize as well as Most Outstanding Student. She also delivered the valedictory address at her graduation ceremony. For her outstanding string of successes, her parents awarded her by taking her to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. This is what Aliyah had to say of her excellent results:

“I was motivated by my parents, my teachers and with the help of God I did my best. My recipe for success was diligent prayer, constant revision, sufficient rest and sparing time for recreation. My advice to the upcoming S.E.A. students is ‘When you believe, you can achieve’, and ‘The sky is the limit.’

Congratulations to both Vickram and Aliyah! May you continue to excel as you begin a new leg of your journey in education.

Worship of Lord Ganesh

Ganesh VisarjanWhy is durva (doob) grass used in Ganesh worship?
According to Shri Ganapati Atharvasheersh, it is said that a devotee who worships Bhagavan Ganesh with blades of durva will become as Kubera, the God of wealth. This implies that affluence and achievement, both spiritual and material are the fruits of the worship of God in this form. Among His many names, Bhagavan Ganesh is also known as champion of worldly achievements.
In addition, durva is known for its medical properties of a cooling and healing balm. It also maintains its freshness over lengthened periods of time, even in the absence of soil or water. Also, when planted, this grass is known to spread its roots quickly, increasing the area over which it extends. This symbolizes the longevity and steady growth in wealth that comes with sincere worship of Bhagavan Ganesh.
Why is Bhagavan Ganesh referred to as the Lord of Obstacles?
The names Vighneshwar or Vighnaraaj, refer to the Lord of Obstacles who bestows upon His devotees the necessary qualities for freeing themselves from the shackles of challenges, difficulties and problems of different kinds. The name Vighnaraaj – king of obstacles, implies that Bhagavan not only causes the removal of obstacles, but he also places obstacles as tests on one’s path, affording one the opportunity to develop and apply vivek (discrimination), thereby enabling the spiritual development of the devotee.

The Appearance of Lord Krishna

Sept 2015 newslettr-pg 6Lord Krishna appeared on earth at the stroke of midnight in the prison cell where his parents were kept hostage. He came in the form of Lord Vishnu. His parents prayed for Him to change Himself into an ordinary baby so they could hide Him from Kans, who had killed six sons before. The Lord advised Vasudev to take him to Vrindavan and exchange him with a girl that had just been born there. Then He transformed Himself into a baby.

Magically, the guards in Kans’ prison fell asleep, and all the iron shackles, chains and locks automatically opened. Without questioning this, Vasudev took the child and departed for Vrindavan. He crossed the Jamuna River with waters rising higher than Vasudev himself. At one point the water almost covered Vasudev. He prayed and as he did so, the baby who was in a basket on Vasusdev’s head, simply put his feet out of the basket, touched the waters which parted immediately.
When Vasudev reached the house of Nand, all the cowherds were asleep. Thus he placed his own son on the bed of Yashoda, picked up her newborn girl and returned to the prison of Kans.

There was a chance that Kans would spare the child because the omen said it would be the eighth son that would kill him. Devaki pleaded with him, but Kans pulled the baby girl from her arms and dashed her against a stone. The girl slipped from his hands and rose above his head as the eight-armed form of Goddess Durga, dressed in fine garments and jewels. She said, “The enemy you contemplate is living somewhere else. You are a fool to hurt innocent children. Krishna will kill you.”
Indeed , Lord Krishna did champion the cause of many devotees of His time.