Celebrating Raviji

Eintou and Raviji. —Photo and Poem courtesy the Idakeda Group
Last month, on November 5, 2011, the Hindu Prachar Kendra celebrated the work and life of its founder, Shri Raviji, at an event titled “Desh Aur Dharam, Being and Becoming”. The occasion marked the 25th anniversary of Raviji’s life of public service. He is now retired from the leadership of the Kendra and devotes his time and energy on building relationships with other communities in the country. The Kendra is now under the guidance of Geeta Vaahini.
Among those who paid tribute to Raviji was his sister in Orisha, the poet Eintou Pearl Springer. Her tribute was delivered in poetry and is published below:

TRIBUTE TO RAVIJI
By Eintou Pearl Spring

Suppose there are no elders
Only old people
This is the nightmare that Walcott invokes
in the Saddhu of Couva.
For people for whom the history stinks
of the scourge of repression of culture
marginalisation of world view
the nightmare lives;
invoked
in loss of name
invoked
in loss of self love
signalled, fuelled
by the shame of conversion
the embracing of alien gods
alien world view
never, never to be whole.
Is witnessed in the savagery
of our children;
the killing fields
fertilized by children
of old people;
children, without elders

Into this breach
come the warriors
of the cultures
this one,
of whom today we speak
Ravi
my brother
going deep deep
into the words of wisdom
of those ancient pitri
Arming, arming
the people
against the war
for their minds;
arming them
in their own armor
of music, food, clothes
language, prayers
God.

Ravi
My brother warrior
of the culture
meeting me across the battle lines
the war waged
for cultural confidence;
Esu to Ganesh
Shango to Shiva
of the dancing locks;
Ogun to Hanuman
Oshun to Ganga Mai;
sharing with me
the passion for this fight
for cultural liberation.
Down
through the many years
many battles
we have joined together.
walking
the long hard road
towards trusting each other.
showing, saying
to our peoples
look, it is possible
for us to walk
to work, to live
together

No old person,
my brother,
but elder;
not afraid to welcome the challenges of youth
and woman power;
not holding on desperately to leadership
of the Kendra.
spitting in the face
of the example of many
another old leader

Ravi
no old person
but beloved elder,
worthy of the reverence
of touch on feet
guiding, teaching, fulfilling
the hard and lonely karma
that is the path
of those amongst us
chosen to be warriors
of the culture.

Ravi
Culture warrior
my brother
I pay you homage
on this occasion
of well deserved
honour.

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