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Aditi Saxena | HENB | Johannesburg | May 15, 2021:: Sarika Besesar Ramdhani who is an actuary in profession, grew up knowing Bible stories and others, but none of the stories of her own religion, Hinduism. And how was she to pass this knowledge on to her 3-year-old son in bondage of pandemic?
Lockdown in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa made her challenge in a creativity and the a change came all that, with the recent publication of her first book, Hanuman and the Sun, a pictorial story teller for the kids.
Discovering the lack of children’s Hindu literature, a mother has gone out of her way to ensure that youth are educated on Hinduism through books.
The book was launched late last month to coincide with the festival of Hanuman Jayanthi, the birth of Lord Hanuman.
“Now children can understand why we are celebrating. It’s because Hanuman was born on this day and this is who he was, this was his mom and this was his dad,” she said.
“After becoming a mother I was disappointed there was no appropriate children’s literature on Hinduism in English,” the 36-year-old health insurance consultant said.
“I would import books from India, but the story lines were unappealing and often of very poor quality and the images terrible, so violent. There are demons in Hinduism and the gods all carry weapons, but this was not appropriate when reading to a child before going to bed.”
Sarika said lockdown gave her the time and interest to research and write the stories.
“I was determined to introduce my young son to the topic. I began importing children’s books on Hinduism. However, I found that the content was sub-standard, the illustrations were unappealing and the storyline was complex and too graphic for a little one,” she told the Rising Sun.
“Stories for Shiv retell the great, yet complex Hindu epics in a picture book format with a simple storyline and enchanting imagery. It aims to introduce key concepts on Hinduism and to promote awareness of the Indian culture,” she explained.
“I have also met the talented illustrator, Emily House, who enthusiastically offered to bring my story to life as she portrayed the Gods in a classical, yet modern style, which simply captivates the imagination of the little child. This project is also a tribute to my parents, grandparents and forefathers, who despite enduring the pain of indentured labourers and then suffering under the chains of apartheid, they were still able to maintain their religion and culture. Regardless of their difficult circumstances and lack of resources, they were able to preserve their traditions by word of mouth and staunch practice, so that I may proudly pass it onto my son today,” she commented.
“A tremendous amount of work has been put into this book, Hanuman and the Sun. Dr Lokesh Maharajh and Pundit Rishi Maharajh of the Shree Sanathan Dharma Sabha have reviewed the content for accuracy to the ancient scriptures,” she mentioned.
Her hope for Stories for Shiv is that the books become a household name, and loved by all members of the family. “I hope that children will treasure these stories forever, and perhaps, pass them down to their children one day,” Sarika concluded.
The book, ‘Hanuman and the Sun’ is available at http://www.storiesforshiv.com/ now and everybody will be waiting for ‘Stories of Lord Shiva’.
__Inputs from Rising Sun and IOL.