Categorized | Community

Dada Vaswani shares pearls of wisdom with Toronto!

Posted on 25 September 2013 by admin

‘Hands that help and heal are holier than hands that turn the rosary.’

‘Come lend a helping hand, come make the impossible- I’m possible.’

‘Come lend a helping hand, come let us fulfill our duty of being human.’

And so went on numerous quotable quotes from the revered Sindhi spiritual leader, visionary, philosopher and author, Dada J P Vaswani, who is visiting Toronto. He held two discourses over the Sep 21-22 weekend, one in a Ganga-Jamuna mix of English and Sindhi at the Sindhi Gurmandir and the other in English at the Sringeri Mandir.

The 4 points he drove home to face the challenges of life are:

1. Turn over your life in childlike trust to the Lord.

2. Rejoice in everything that the will of the Lord brings to you.

3. Spend some time daily in silent study of spiritual truths.

4. Help others! Do sewa!

Dada delighted so many of his followers by not only giving them serious ways of running and improving their lives but also expounded on the four aforementioned tenets punctuating his discourse with various humourous anecdotes (for instance, Albert Einstein always said to avoid altercations with his spouse, they agreed that all minor decisions were to be taken by his wife and all major ones by him, but grab this…no occasion ever arose for major decisions! Now did that ever prompt loud laughter from the attendees!).

Stressing that one should always speak sweetly and softly and always help others without asking for anything in return, the hall was thrown open to a Q & A session. After several questions to which a very mentally agile and alert Dada (especially considering he turned 95 in August) responded with wit and depth, a question was asked as to why one should adopt vegetarianism. Dada again responded with intelligence and wisdom following which, an excited devotee jumped up and invited 95 patrons to come up and pledge at least a day of eating vegetarian food to celebrate Dada’s recent 95th birthday. The session stopped as people one by one went up and pledged themselves to at least a day of vegetarianism and to get blessings from Dada. normal� pn8�I�BCA style=’font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”; mso-bidi-font-family:Helvetica;color:black;border:none windowtext 1.0pt; mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in;padding:0in;background:white’>Shalini Konanur 

Every September, global leaders descend on New York for an annual rite of passage. They go to mark the ceremonial opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Often characterized by high-level presidential and prime ministerial speeches, the UNGA is also an opportunity for in-the-trenches progress toward making the world a better place. One such opportunity will take place this Wednesday, Sept. 25.

On that day, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will work to rally support from other countries to tackle an issue whose proper place, really, is in ancient history texts, but sadly continues to plague the world today: the ongoing practice of forcing children, mostly girls, to marry someone against their will.

In the developing world, one in three girls takes wedding vows by the time she is 18. That translates into 14 million child marriages per year, often dooming these brides to lifelong servitude and misery.

Clearly, child marriage is morally repugnant and a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that marriage requires “free and full consent.” But the issue goes well beyond human rights. Child marriage is a major impediment to poverty reduction and economic development. Child brides are almost always forced to drop their schooling and, thereby, become unable to contribute to achieving broader social and economic goals.

Enabling girls in developing countries to remain in school longer, on the other hand, would have a positive impact on them as well as the countries they live in. If children, especially girls, remain in school until at least age 15, they not only enhance essential reading and arithmetic knowledge but also learn life skills, including an appreciation of their basic rights and how to assert them.

As well, those extra years take them through puberty, a time when many girls in the world first confront forced marriages or are shunted away from the classroom to focus on housework and other chores. Indeed, a girl with some secondary education is less likely to marry too young than a girl with only primary education or less.

Eradicating child marriage also has significant health benefits, not only for young brides. The earlier a girl becomes pregnant, the higher the risk of death for both her and her children due to pregnancy and childbirth complications. In developing nations, these complications are the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19. And infant deaths are 50 per cent more likely in these cases .

Yet the heinous tradition of child and forced marriage is by no means only a developing world phenomenon. In 2012, as many as 1,485 possible forced marriage cases prompted the attention and resources of the U.K. government’s Forced Marriage Unit which has been tasked with combatting the practice of forced marriage within Britain. There are signs this issue has made its mark in Canada as well.

The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) has taken steps to determine the extent of forced and child marriage in this country. According to SALCO’s preliminary research, one-quarter of the 219 forced marriage situations it has investigated in Ontario and Quebec over the past three years have involved children under the age of 18. The research further indicated that nearly half (44 per cent) of people identifying as victims of forced marriage situations were Canadian citizens and many of these marriages occurred outside the country, beyond the reach of the Canadian justice system .

There is clearly a need for action, both at the government and community levels, in Canada as well as in the developing world. With Canada’s leadership at the UN we can help to end this destructive practice everywhere in our lifetimes.

For his part, Minister Baird has been outspoken in the fight to end child and forced marriage. We encourage him to continue in that role at this session of the UN. Beyond the UN, Baird could lead a Canadian initiative that includes smart interventions at home and abroad to combat this practice on the ground.

We fully support Canada’s efforts to lead on a UN resolution that would mark an international commitment to end child and forced marriage in all corners of the world. Such a resolution, as part of a broader ministerial initiative that works with communities themselves, would add the moral force of the international body to pressure member states to ban this practice within their borders, regardless of cultural, historic and social traditions.

Hard to imagine any country daring to vote No.

Rosemary McCarney is president and CEO of Plan Canada. Shalini Konanur is executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.


Leave a Reply

Advertise Here
Advertise Here