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Mother: The First Teacher

Aug. 5, 2020, 7:58 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 498 views)

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We, Odiyas, are emotional people. We forge deep personal bonds and intimate connections, not just with our fellow beings but also with the Divine.

While the world calls Him “Jagannath”, meaning "lord of the universe", He is affectionately and intimately referred to as ‘’Jaga/ Jagabandhu’’ i.e "Friend of the Universe" or ‘’Kalia’’ i.e ‘the dark-colored chap’ by us. The Lord is one of us-- he diligently brushes his teeth and loves taking a bath; he loves good food, good clothes and going for a ride in his chariot with his two siblings; he is especially fond of his Mausi/Maasi or maternal aunt; he falls ill and needs to rest and recuperate; he sometimes has to put up with wifely jibes and anger. This unique relationship, that transcends rigid lines of formalism and structure in religion, is one of great beauty and strength. It’s a faith so absolute, so complete that we do not expect any ecstasy greater than right here, right now in our everyday lives.

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Here is a story of a young mother, Moumita Poddar from Kolkata, and her daughter Akshitta which shows how Jaga Kalia is an integral part of their daily life.

Imbibing a great love for the Lord Jagannath from her parents, Moumita grew up with many visits to Puri, Odisha with them. She loves the golden beaches and the glorious sunsets of this beautiful city. But, most of all, each year, she waited for the ‘’Rath-Yatra” festival eagerly, and attending it was extremely important to her. Some time back, she got married, moved quite far off, and then her daughter arrived soon. She was unable to visit the Lord. This year the small family had decided to attend the ‘Rath Yatra’, but, pandemic restrictions didn’t allow their dream to materialize.

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That is when Moumita decided that she and her daughter would not only pull the ‘rath’ of the Lord Jagannath on Jun 23,2020.but also make a chariot together.

This young mother, while doing so, taught two great lessons to her daughter. Firstly, that of sustainable and eco-living. The chariot was made out of cardboard boxes that had arrived from Amazon/Flipkart, glue from rice paste and little decorations from waste paper, etc. Secondly, the importance of and pride in handmade products. The love and labor go into it. Talk about parenting done right! And a God who subtly showed the way to live life in today’s times, ecologically graceful and conservationist.

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Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother. And the mother is the first teacher of the child. When the nurturing of the mind and soul is as importantly done, like Moumita here, the child grows up with strength, compassion, and tolerance.

As is said, affirming words and actions from mothers( and fathers) are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation, teach the necessary thing at the right moment in a child’s life and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.

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Karuwaki Speaks salutes the indomitable love of all mothers and prays to the Lord Jagannath, to forever keep Moumita and little Akshitta, in His benevolent gaze.

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