In an era when apathy towards elders is becoming a norm rather than an exception, when grandparents are looked upon as a burden and are often abused, and when increasing number of crimes are being committed against senior citizens, it is reassuring that there are still people who respect the aged.
A couple of weeks ago, more than 200 elders attended the thoughtful programme organised in their honour. The occasion was World Elder’s Day and the organisers were their own grandchildren and students of Sri Ma Group of Institutions. This year’s theme was ‘Respect for Elders at Home’. The children applied tilak, conducted aarti, and sought blessings of their grandparents. An elocution competition on the topic ‘We and Our Grandparents’ and a slogan-writing competition added to the emotional energy of event. The children also presented entertainment programmes and played games in which grandparents also participated.
The next day, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti, the elders experienced another round of compassion when they participated in a free comprehensive health check-up camp, complete with specialist doctors to check every ailment. The camp was organised by Sri Ma Senior Citizens Welfare Centre, which also sponsored follow up consultations, x-rays and other tests where required. The trust also undertook the cost of operation and its pre and post-operative expenses of those elders who were diagnosed with cataract but could not afford the operation. Elders were shown a documentary on hearing aid.
Refreshments, free transport and free medicines for the participants were other highlights of the camp.
The government of India recently announced that it is going to introduce a bill to safeguard the interest of senior citizens by ensuring that children provide for their parents, both financially and emotionally. While it’s great to see the government making such a move, what is painful is that the need for it has arisen due to the indifference of the young towards their old. The children often forget that they owe their lives to their parents and grandparents. They forget that someday they will become old too.
Goddess Durga, with her multi-dimensional aspects, represents the supreme power in the female form. Mother of Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati, Durga Ma protects us from misery by defeating evil forces such as selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger and ego. In that sense, Goddess Durga is the ultimate projection of womanhood. No wonder a group of women from the city celebrate this feminine energy by dedicating one of the ten days in the Durgotsav festival to the spirit of women entrepreneurs.
Every year, on the fifth day of the Durgotsav festival (Panchami), women from Thane’s New Bengal Club, an NGO that works for the underprivileged, the variously disabled and women-related issues, organises AnandaMela, a fun-fair that showcases products and services of woman entrepreneurs.
This year too, about 50 women entrepreneurs from Thane and Mumbai participated in AnandaMela to sell jewellery, women’s wear, readymade garments, fashion fabrics, handicrafts and many more items. The Bengali festive spirit was evident in the wide array of sweet delicacies and the typical attire of the bhadralok and the bhadramohila. The chief guest for the evening was entrepreneur Smita Mahajan, who is the chairperson of Bombay Management Association’s Thane chapter and also of Matru Shakti, a city-based NGO.
The proceeds of AnandaMela are used for humanitarian activities and including donations to charities. For the beneficiaries of the proceeds, AnandaMela is not less than the blessing of Goddess Durga, who reveals her omnipotence in mysterious ways.