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Breaching barriers,girls spout Vedic chants at school fest

Eight all-girl teams lined up on a foggy Delhi morning,raised their faces towards the sun and chanted Vedic suktas (prayers).

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi |
January 7, 2010 12:37:21 am

Eight all-girl teams lined up on a foggy Delhi morning,raised their faces towards the sun and chanted Vedic suktas (prayers). In four minutes each,they breached with ease barriers that most Indian women are still not allowed to approach.

The Vedic chanting event was part of the three-day Inter-School Value Festival held at the Sri Satya Sai Vidya Vihar Girls’ Public School,Kalkaji. Eight of 11 Sri Satya Sai Schools in North India are taking part in the event that began on Tuesday.

“Vedic chanting by women was a social taboo in India,but things have started improving. In many parts of the country,women chanting suktas are still frowned upon,” said one of the judges at the competition,requesting anonymity.

The students were offered a choice of four suktams to recite: Medha Suktam,praising Goddess Saraswati; Sri Suktam,praising Goddess Lakshmi; Purusha Suktam,praising Lord Vishnu and Mantra Pushpam,invoking the five elements.

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“I do not know the meaning of the suktas,” admitted A Devika,a Class V student who was part of the Delhi team. “We have around 10 minutes of Vedic chanting at school every day,and the team is coached in school,” she said.

Competition is discouraged,and hence the students were not awarded prizes. “We (the Satya Sai schools) award grades,a system developed and practised academically by us even before the CBSE. Memory,clarity of pronunciation,presentation and bhaav were some of the criteria by which the students were judged,” the judge said.

Around 250 students are participating in the event.

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