NAGPUR: Following the age-old Bharatiya tradition of initiating girls into adhyayan and swadhyaya Vidya Vrat Samskar was performed at Devi Ahilya Mandir September 9. Forty two girl inmates of Devi Ahilya Mandir Vanvasi Balika Chhatravas were initiated during this ritual by giving them a locket of Om at the hands of former Pramukh Sanchalikas of Rashtra Sevika Samiti Vandaniya Pramilatai Medhe and Vandaniya Ushatai Chati.
All the girls living in the hostel run by the Samiti belong to various Janjati communities of remote inaccessible areas of the North-eastern states. As of now there are 42 girl students, five of them below the age of five! All of them were initiated into this samskar, which is considered necessary ‘exclusively for male children’.
The samskar and the rituals associated with it were performed by Aparnatai Kalyani and Meghanatai Phadke, both from Sholapur. They both belonged to Gyan Prabodhini of Pune. Both of them reached Ahilya Mandir three days prior to this initiation ceremony. They conversed with the girls in order to make them understand the importance, propriety and meaning of this samskar and to make them ready to receive the initiation.
References to the samskar performed for the girls are found in ancient Bharatiya scriptures. During the Vedic period, many a women even composed some of the richas (verses) of the Vedas. Over a period of time marriage ceremony was came to be considered as the ‘only’ samskar for women and thus this vidya vrat or upanayan samskar was not performed for them. This samskar was actually helpful in sharpening the intellect, understanding and other mental abilities of an individual. Hence, Gyan Prabodhini once again revived this with changes commensurate with the changing times.
According to the ‘Purohit’ Aparna Kalyani, this ritual of Vidya Vrat samksar would help the girls to sharpen their intellect and prepare themselves to receive some good moral values. She advised them to follow the 11 vratas as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi for the benefit of the society and self. We must develop our personality by performing daily exercises both physical and intellectual and use all prowess for the service of our beloved motherland, the girls were told.
At the end of the programme havan was performed by the girls in groups of six and lockets of Om were distributed as ‘blessings’ to them by Vandaniya Pramilataiji and Vandaniya Ushataiji.
In an informal chat after the programme Vandaniya Pramilatai recalled that such programme was also held during 1990-91 in which the third RSS Chief Balasahab Deoras was present. Somebody then asked him whether he liked such ‘revivalist’ programme and rituals. Balasaheb was known as progressive in the RSS. Therefore, the questioner thought that his answer would come as negative. To his surprise Balasaheb shot back saying that was not his presence enough proof of his admiring this programme?
Vandaniya Pramilatai also recalled how the late Janardan Swami had helped Vandaniya Mausi Kelkar in her attempt to teach Gayatri Mantra to the Sevikas of the Samiti.
The programme was also attended by Chitratai Joshi, Sushmita Joshi, Radha Gokhale, Jayashri Joshi, Sumitra Vaidya and other activists of Rashtra Sevika Samiti.