COMA Newsletter October 2019

Here in Midwest we are now seeing the major seasons change of the year, and to every ones delight our curbside trees are turning gorgeous with those fall colors.Before its loo late you have couple of weeks to explore some of the beautiful scenic dives in and around Ohio and experience the golden light of mother nature. In this edition of the newsletter of Hari has written a beautiful poem and Manju is talking about the importance of Malayalam education but to begin with, Shraddha have written a piece about relevance of Mahatma Gandhi and his values in our lives and for the generations to come. Happy Reading!!! and Wishing you all a Happy Diwali!!!

Celebrating Gandhi – His Values and Principles by Shraddha Krishnan

While celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the question of whether Gandhi’s values and principles are still relevant and important to the current world is definitely worthy of examination. Gandhi was one of the most influential voices of not just India, but the whole world. His words spoke out and related to most of the planet’s population, and he was a force to be reckoned with. When asked about him, Albert Einstein once said, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.” Einstein could not believe that someone with values of such high esteem could actually be human.

If we look back at the life of Gandhi, two very important values seem to stand out, and form the core principles of his teachings. One of these values is satyam, or a strict adherence to truth. He once said, “In judging myself I shall try to be as harsh as truth, as I want others also to be. Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.” This is something he had followed for all his life, from his teenage years all the way up to his unfortunate death.

The second value is ahimsa, or non-violence. He encouraged all his followers to do the same, and it made such a difference in the world. This is one of the things Gandhi is most remembered for. He did not believe in fighting violence with violence. He always stood by the strong belief that violence is never the answer. The most noted evidence of this is the Salt Satyagraha, or the Salt March. This was an act of disobedience to assert one’s rights without violence. It was simple, yet spoke so loud. This trend of non-violent action set the stage for many future activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., who constantly referred to Gandhi’s principles during the Civil Rights Movement.    

These two moral standards did not appear out of thin air.  Mahatma Gandhi’s experiences in life, from being a student in London, to working as a lawyer in South Africa, and leading a revolution in India, churned together and formed his teachings as we know of them today. Gandhi lived through many important events, and they shaped his character into something that even today, we revere. We live in a world right now where violence appears to be the main expression of power.

We see it all the time that in violence and thirst for power, hate and injustice seem to manifest themselves in every crevice of society. This is not any different from Gandhi’s time. Just as he was able to use the values of non-violence and truth to fight domination and injustice in his era, we can also do the same today. 

Sudents all around the globe are currently taught about Gandhi and why his message is so important. Students of today are the future, and are responsible for what our world will be tomorrow. As inspired by a very famous quote of Gandhi, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. It is so important that students learn to appreciate Gandhi and his principles in order to make today’s multicultural and cosmopolitan societies a true success. The example set by Gandhi on peaceful coexistence and mutual respect is extremely valuable to today’s as well as the future world. Gandhi’s principles will always be applicable through the generations to come. This is why students should learn about them to make our world a better place. 

Reflections or Ramblings – (edition 3) by Hari Narayanaswamy

I too had strolled up a mount
Coming upon two forking paths*
Leading away to places far
Mysteries unseen, buried very deep

One was hemmed with flowery shrubs
Jasmine and Lily, Lavender and Daisies
Opening the gate for rushing thoughts
Waking up dreams that slept in heart

Dreams of a spring bright with Sun
Sprawling meadows and shiny grass
Daffodils swaying, breeze very light
Darting birds and clear blue sky

Other was laid with fallen leaves
Glistening in colors that bring us cheer
Sun’s rays playing hide and seek
Fresh odor of cedar, oak and birch

Solemness of a winter not yet here
Traces of a summer not yet gone
Clouds that rush to homes far off
Hearts that yearn for long lost love

Down I went on my autumn path
Sparsely treaded, rarely passed
What I come upon was not my care
Breathing joy on a boundless flight

*Reference is to Robert Frost’s famous poem ‘Road not taken’

Why Malayalam ? by Manjula Nair

It is ironic that I am writing about why it is important to learn Malayalam , in English. My intent is to reach a broader audience and also those who do not know Malayalam. I read somewhere that the biggest human invention is our languages. Languages have helped humans communicate and that has led us towards civilization. I am sure there are some of us who would argue that animals and birds communicate better than humans in this day and age. And there are also people (like me) who believe that non verbal communication is way more effective. But let’s table that topic for another day.

Coming back to the importance of communication , done in the right way, it is the most powerful tool that exists today. It could be used to influence human minds, give new perspectives, forge relationships, soothe an aching heart. But since it is such a powerful tool, it can cause just as much destruction too. Communication or the lack of, has destroyed relationships, caused world wars, Hence the importance of using it carefully and mindfully.

Having said this, I need to tell you why I think it is important to learn your mother tongue.  As humans, one of our most basic needs is to belong in friendship, in romance, in a family, a community, whatever it maybe. But we need to belong. To belong to your roots, to the land where you originated, you should be able to communicate in the same language. I am not saying you cannot connect to your motherland without knowing the language, but it is definitely easier if you do. You understand the jokes, the slang, the little references that come up in conversations and voila! you are one among them..

For our children, who has grown up in another land,that we call our home, it is always harder to communicate and connect with those back in our motherland. Language plays a huge role in bridging the gap, amongst many other things. 

One of the best gifts that we can give our children is a chance to learn the language, so that they don’t feel so alien when they visit Kerala. I have seen that happen with so many children and is very sad to watch them trying to fit in and are unable to.

Our association has an ongoing Malayalam class that is run by volunteers entirely and caters to both adults and children.If you didn’t know about this offering and if you would like to learn our language, please check out our association website

If you are one to treasure our roots in Kerala and wishes that your children do too, give them the gift of language. That will help them belong to the Malayali community. Plus, we all know, there is no place in the entire world where you won’t find a Malayali. And lets not forget our world class literature and movies.You will be exposing them to the treasure land of books and movies and they will thank you. 

Hopefully we will see more of you in our Malayalam class..

Onam Celebrations

Please access pictures from COMA Onam celebration 2019 by clicking here. Thank you to Ashish M for capturing the moments so well.

Finance 101

COMA will be conducting a finance 101 session for youths. This session will be a great opportunity for the youths to understand the Importance of money and how to start saving and investing for future from the industry experts on Finance and Insurance. This session is geared towards children from middle school through college going.  There will be a limited number of seats available for this session and we would encourage you to sign up early by sending an email to coma.officials@gmail.com  Please mark your calendar for the session to be conducted on Nov 16th Saturday 2.00 PM to 3.00 PM.  We will send out venue and other details soon. 

Meals on Wheels Volunteers

  • 09/22 – Thomas Pullumpallil, Reuben Varughese and Girish Manoharan
  • 10/13 – Nish Nishant, Dhanush Kondoth and Shibu Nair

“GIVING BACK TO KERALA”

What is this initiative? 

Being so far away from India, all of you have probably wanted to somehow be able to give back and be connected to our birthplace, Kerala. COMA is starting an initiative called ‘Giving back to Kerala’ and has for the year 2019-2020, identified two non-profit, non-religious, non-political charitable organizations in Kerala that desperately require financial support. Both serve the elderly, destitute, battered women, abandoned children.

  • Gandhi Bhavan Saranalayam, Kollam-Sustaining Need – TARGET $300 ($100 of 300  reached) per month 
    • Pay a recurring monthly amount or one-time payment through  coma.charities@gmail.com
  • Sri Chitra Home, Trivandrum- One Time Need – TARGET $3000 this year  
  • **Payment through Quick pay (coma.charities@gmail.com) or Paypal to coma.officials@gmail.com

What happens to my donation?

Separate account is set up for donations and the donations will be handed over to these organizations and accounted separately by COMA. Total donations received will be published annually for full transparency. Efforts are in place to ensure that there is complete accountability for the money received at these organizations. The utilization of the funds will be socialized with the givers so that we can rest easy that the money has reached the truly deserving people. 

As always, please send us any questions or clarifications that you might have regarding this at coma.charities@gmail.com.

Thank you all in advance for your generosity!!

COMA CHARITY TEAM

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