One has to see how others live and pray through such educational arrangements to understand each other better. How else would we know each other?
A group of Secondary School students from an elite girls’ school insisted on not joining their schoolmates in visiting a Little India Hindu temple during a National Education trip. Instead, they chose to wait outside under the hot sun.
Shiva Rai, an interfaith speaker and founder of Sghindu, happened to be at the temple that day and witnessed the scene.
When he approached the girls outside and probed why they were not willing to go in, their answers shocked him.
One girl, a free thinker said her mother told her Indian temples are dangerous places. Another girl said she was a Christian and can’t go “inside there” (with a slight tone of disgust).
The school was a secular school.
What has become of National Education? If students can opt out of components they don’t like, how do we build a truly multi-racial and multi-religious society?
I have brought Pastors and Reverends around Hindu temples without any deities getting hurt or individuals getting possessed.Shiva Rai, interfaith speaker and founder of Sghindu
Shiva added that he was concerned about what would happen to the younger generation’s perceptions about other people’s religions if they missed out on this important part of National Education.
I have seen the insides of all religious places and have been much the richer for it. What type of National Education do these women have if they close themselves off at such a young age?Shiva Rai
Is there really anything wrong with going into another religion’s place of worship to see and understand it? Regardless of one’s individual religion, shouldn’t we respect other faiths and learn about their practices?
Otherwise, what is the point of National Education?
Here’s the full post by Shiva Rai:
I was lucky enough to bump into an Elite Girl Secondary School that was doing their #NationalEducation rounds in a Little India temple today. I managed to answer some of their questions after introducing myself to the teachers as the founder at #SgHindu.
Then as I walked out of the temple. I see a group about 16 of them which was about 25% of the group languishing in the hot sun. It was 37 degrees when I had gotten out of my car at this point. They clearly looked upset as they had been waiting for quite sometime and didn’t seem to be moving with the other batches.
I approached them and asked, why they weren’t going in? A teacher nearby who wasn’t thrilled to be baby sitting them in the sun said “Individual choice, feel free to ask them.”
I got the superficial answers first, “I don’t want to take out my socks”, “I can hear the tour guide through my ear piece”, “it’s too crowded” all of which I calmly refuted. Then one of the girls blurted it out:
“I am Christian and I can’t go inside there.”
“Inside there” the choice of words was telling, the revulsion dripping from her tone. I have brought Pastors and Reverends around Hindu temples without any deities getting hurt or individuals getting possessed. I proceeded to analyze the group, most of them were from two Major Abrahamic faiths, only one girl was a free thinker whose mom told her Indian temples are dangerous places. I could tell why the teacher was irritated. We soon established that religious conviction was the main reason why they wouldn’t enter.
I was honestly flabbergasted, not sure if the sun was doing a number on me or the fact that National Education provided a choice of where people could enter. I as a Hindu don’t ever remember being given that choice. One has to see how others live and pray through such educational arrangements to understand each other better. How else would we know each other? What if I suddenly decided that going to Kampung Glam would be against my faith (we are vehemently against vestiges of Monarchy or sacrificing animals as ridiculous), could I just not go for National Education Tours?
I have seen the insides of all religious places and have been much the richer for it. What type of National Education do these women have if they close themselves off at such a young age? Furthermore, this was a secular school, if might have been slightly more understandable if it was a Madrasah or Mission School.
I decided against convincing them any further, I figured the Sun whom #Hindus consider the giver of all knowledge was doing it for me. However, if this is an elite school and these young women would become bureaucrats, in their heart of hearts, would they ever be able to let go of the stereotype of “superstitious devil worshipping pagans”?
And that reality is a much scarier thought than Halloween or Christmas slowly overshadowing all #Deepavali Festivities in #Singapore.