Hindu Dharma teaches that respecting parents is a virtue that should be observed throughout one’s life, and that parents have a sacred duty to their children. To emphasise this and enhance family harmony, a programme entitled ‘Matru Devo Bhava, Pitru Devo Bhava’ was held at various BAPS mandirs and centres across the UK (London, Coventry, Leicester, Loughborough, Luton, Preston) during June 2009.
The children themselves took charge of the majority of performances, beginning with the dhun and prarthana. A short speech explaining why and how members should respect one another in households followed.
Families then participated in a traditional pujan vidhi which invoked a harmonious and spiritual atmosphere. At the end of this ceremony, sons and daughters offered sugar crystals to their parents as a symbol of sweet relationships. It also symbolised that they should forgive one another and forget the past so that a happy and harmonious year ahead could be shared. Parents were then offered respect by children in the traditional manner with panchang pranam.
A special video titled ‘Jagte Raho’ was then shown to the families. It touched many hearts and minds as members of the family realised their weaknesses and learnt ways of resolving them. A number of important subjects and messages were incorporated in the video, such as:
- To a child, love is a four-letter word spelt ‘T-I-M-E’
- ‘Play’ is the window which opens a child’s heart
- Actions speak louder than words
- The family that eats, plays and prays together, stays together
In some centres, children also constructed a cube from card and wrote a special message with their promises to their parents on the faces of the cube. These were presented to the parents who were asked to place these cubes under the driver’s mirror in their cars to remind them of this special day and these loving messages from their children.
In a separate short sabha, balaks and balikas learned about their role as children and were provided examples of exemplary children such as Shri Rama, Ganesh and Shravan, all of whom expressed the highest level of respect for their parents.
The attending sadhus also addressed the parents and conveyed Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message to them about their responsibilities to their children. They explained how, in many ways, Swamishri exemplified many virtues of an ideal parent and using examples from his life, they described how genuine love consists of care, concern and consideration.
Hundreds of parents attended the event across the UK and were very touched by the messages and reminders. Here are some of the opinions that were voiced:
"This was a wake-up call for me. Thank you."
"It seemed as though this video has been made for me and my family. There were so many common things."
"I will definitely change my lifestyle and spend more time with my children and family now."
"I am glad I came today because I have realised how small things can mean so much to my little children. Thank you for this wonderful learning opportunity."