US Youth Network Makes Sanskrit Fun

BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT


Jul 24, MARYLAND (REDIFF) — A recently launched web portal by a group of young people in the US directs you to a video of a "Sholay" (a Bollywood blockbuster) skit and the "Aati Kya Khandala" Hindi film song--both in Sanskrit--that they performed at an Indian event in the US. This is one of the many new methods that the "umd_samskritam" group, comprising of students from the University of Maryland and young professionals from the area, have adopted to promote spoken Sanskrit in daily life.

The group launched their web site, July 11. The youth network believes that there is a lot of practical value in the classical language of India, which also is the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism apart from being the oldest attested Indo-European language.

"Umd-samskritam began as a collaboration between DESI, a student group at the University of Maryland, and Samskrita Bharati, a voluntary NGO that seeks to promote Sanskrit. Its motto is "Rachayema Samskrita Buvanam," which means "We shall create a Sanskrit world."



Having grown to over 160 members and about 15 volunteers by May 2006, the group pushed for their web site, in addition to coordinating Sanskrit activities in the Washington, DC, area. The web site aims to function as a repository of Sanskrit resources, link together Sanskrit activities around the world and "promote Sanskrit through fun" as well as encourage online activities such as blogging and forums.

Volunteer Srilatha Kuntumalla says July 11 was chosen for launching the website as it was "Guru Poornima," a day traditionally observed in India in honor of gurus or teachers. Students offer prayers and guru dakshina (offerings) to their teachers for guiding them and imparting knowledge.

The umd_samskritam group wanted the web site to be their guru dakshina to their teacher and Samskrita Bharati volunteer, Rajesh Rachabattuni. Currently, the website has mp3 versions of stories, songs, conversations and videos of skits that were performed during various Sanskrit workshops.

The group's goal is to help create such web pages for various regions in the US where Sanskrit groups are already active.



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