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Help needed with teaching what a mandir is to year 1 children.

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by haroon1234, May 14, 2011.

  1. Hi
    I'm a trainee teacher in a year 1 class. The children are learning about Hinduism and in the next lesson, I am going to teach them about what happens in a Mandir. I am going to start of by recapping what they already know about Hinduism. Then I will show them some virtual tours of a Mandir and I will show them clips of hindus worshipping in a madir. We will discuss the simmilarities and differences between a mandir and other places of worship. I will get the chn to think about why the Hindus take their shoes of when visiting the mandir and so we will talk about respecting things which are special to them.
    It's the main activity which I am struggling with. I am thinking of giving them an outline of a Mandir. The LA chn will draw what they would find in the Mandir. The MA will draw and label. The HA will draw and write a sentence. Whilst they are completing this activity, I will have a mandir set up in our small role play area. I will put in there the statues, the puja tray and some flowers. I will choose a table at a time to come and explore the mandir.
    Do you think my ideas are ok? Could anybody offer any suggestions on how I could improve it?

    Looking forward to hearing your comments.

  2. I did post on this in the Primary forum. I have been to a mandir many times but would honestly find it hard to
    draw what was inside. The activities you've chosen are very limited. I
    wonder if it is best thinking about the senses - the sound of the bell,
    the heat of the aarti tray, etc, the taste of prasad, the sight of the
    murti and the Hindu temple.I don't think comparing and contrasting mandirs to other places of worship is that helpful to that age range. The exploration of the area in your room is a very good idea - perhaps you could extend it with incense (if appropriate), sweets, etc, but probably needs to be more of the central idea of your lesson
  3. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Hello Flame,

    I agree with you about thinking about the senses but I would start with an exploration of what worship is and why people go to Places of Worship at all.

    Year 1 children probably have some experience of what worship means and some of them may have been in a Church or other religious building. I would start with questions and discussion about their own experience.

    If you explain that worship means devoting time to something that is very important to you, they can think of what is important in their own lives and families. I have used the parallel with birthdays sometimes.

    On your birthday, you are the most important person, so people decorate the room and make special food, They make a cake with candles on it and you have traditions like wearing something nice and blowing all the candles out in one breath (if you can). Friends and family sing special songs and often gather together to have a party. The whole aim is to give you a really happy day.

    When you go to a place of worship, the special person is God and your aim is to offer your love and receive his blessings, Peace, Light and Joy. (of course that's a bit of a simplification, but with year 1 you have to keep it simple.)

    In theory God is everywhere, but it's hard to remember him in the hustle and bustle of an ordinary day. Also, since lots of people want to get together to worship God, you need a big room. So that's why a special room or building is needed.

    You may like to start with a space in the classroom where you are going to create a place of worship, your Mandir. You are learning about Hinduism, so the children need to understand that Hindus believe God is in everything so you can use anything as a focus for worship. But there are ancient stories which tell Hindus about the different 'faces of God' different gods and goddesses who have special responsibility for helping us.

    In some religions people tend to think of God as male, like a great wise Father. But in Hinduism, male and female are always balanced. They go together. And it is just as common to worship God as a mother as it is to think of God as a Father. Since my name is DurgaMata, Mother Durga, one of the main goddesses in Hinduism, I would naturally recommend that you look at her family.

    There are two main aspects of a mother which are explored in the deities. A mother is kind, loving and forgiving. She keeps you safe and gets you the things you want/need. That is the Durga Aspect. The other aspect of a mother is strictness, teaching you what to do, making sure you don't do the wrong thing. That aspect is symbolised in Mother Kali. Both these are different faces of the same divine Mother and Shiva is her partner.

    Durga's children are Ganesha, (with the elephant head) who blesses all new enterprises and removes all obstacles. he is also very wise.

    Saraswatti ( helps with studies, music and art) She rides on a swan.

    Lakshmi (who is the Goddess to pray to if you want more material wealth) is often shown standing in a lotus flower and dropping coins from her hand,

    and Kartik, who is a strong warrior and leader. He is often not shown on the pictures but that relates to another story which is included in those I uploaded after my Hinduism Day.

    Ask the children to think of what God might be like if she were a woman, a mother. She would be able to love all her children in the world, so she would have infinite love, for a start. She would be able to protect them all from harm, so she would need lots of weapons to defeat anyone who was going to make trouble for her children. She would be very busy (like all mothers are) so she would need special powers to get all the jobs done. Superwoman doesn't even come near!!

    The way this is shown in pictures of Durga is that she is given lots of arms. That shows that she has more power than an ordinary person and she can do everything at once. She is usually shown riding on a lion or a tiger and killing demons with her special weapons.

    This relates to some of the stories about her in the ancient Hindu legends. You can explain that in most Mandirs you will find pictures and statues of many different deities but for your classroom you will concentrate on just a few.

    In Hinduism, people worship Deities - the gods and goddesses of the ancient stories - but they also worship God in the form of the Avatars. An Avatar is a human being but not just an ordinary person.

    Hindus believe that an Avatar is actually God in human form.. The best known Avatars are Rama and Krishna. You will usually find statues or pictures of them, with their partners, in a Hindu Temple. Rama is usually shown with his wife Sita, his brother Lakshman and their friend Hanuman, who is a monkey-god. Krishna is usually shown with his friend Radha and sometimes with his disciple Arjuna.

    Sometimes Krishna is shown as a young child. He was a very mischievous child. He worked as a cow-herd when he was young, so sometimes he is shown with a cow - and he is famous for playing the flute, so he is often shown playing the flute. Krishna also is usually shown with a peacock feather in his hair. He is often shown coloured blue, which is representing the spiritual light that radiated from him, but sometimes he is shown black as he was quite dark-skinned.

    You need to show the children lots of these images. You can get some from Google Images. I have some from the Hinduism Day I did in March, so next week my project will be to put some together that you may be able to use.

    Once the children have the idea that a Mandir is a special room where Hindus can go to worship, and a bit of knowledge about the main deities and historical figures that they may find there, then you can get your children to think about how to set things out in the Temple.

    Each Deity or Avatar will have a separate place, where a shrine can be made. If they are only represented by a picture, then this may just be framed and hung on the wall, but usually at least some of the deities have a statue. It needs to be beautifully dressed and garlanded with flowers.

    the kind of tinsel and little fairy lights that Christians may use to decorate a tree at Christmas are often used to decorate the area where the statues stand and this area is often raised up like a stage so if there are a lot of people worshipping together they can all see it clearly.

    As you go through each of these points, the children can make their 'Mandir Space' come alive, with pictures and statues, small stages, tinsel, lights and so on. (Saris can be draped beautifully to give the background on a wall for a shrine.) Then when all is ready, you will go into the Mandir to worship.

    Some schools and some children feel uneasy about this, as they don't actually want to worship a deity which is not from their culture/religion. That is something to respect. They may just want to visit like a tourist. You can talk about that with them. Try to 'go at the speed that they are ok with, a bit of pressure is one thing, to encourage them to engage, think, take part and visit - but I don't think it would be right to pressure any child into joining the worship if they feel uncomfortable with that. You can put some chairs at the back for those children to sit on.

    Either way, the first thing that you do when you go to a Mandir is take off your shoes. this is a symbol of respect and also a practical way of keeping the Mandir clean and pure. The street is a dirty place, dust, mud and even traced of dog-muck may be on your shoes.

    Then you ring a bell and that is a symbol of respect, You are entering the house of the deities so it is polite to let them know you are coming in. also it is a symbol of waking up your own seriousness, ready for worship, You are not going to come in chatting to your friends about something else.

    You come in quietly and stand in front of the picture or image that you have chosen to worship. Boys and men tend to stand on one side, women and girls on the other, but sometimes families stay together. It is not a fixed rule.

    Most Hindu children will know lots of stories about the deities. I put some up about Ganesha in my resources but i will try to find time to add to that. You could read one story a day for a week, while you are doing a project on Hinduism, and each day make your Mandir a bit more detailed.

    As soon as they go inside, the children will be seeing pictures and images that they recognise and know about. Their mind is busy thinking about the stories and what they mean. The deities are not strange images but friends that they have grown up with since they were born.

    The teacher can pass around a basket of flower-petals, and another with cut grass=blades. Each child can take a few of each.

    The teacher can light some incense (check you get a sweet smelling one before hand as some can be old and just smoke.) This perfume purifies the air and engages our sense of smell, strengthening a sense that this is not the usual place or activity. This is something special. The incense can be waved in circles in front of the statues or pictures, and then put into a basin of sand, so they go on burning but there is no danger from falling ash.

    Then the teacher can light a candle or lamp - or possibly more than one on a tray. The name for the ceremony which uses the lamps or candles is called Arati and that means aspiration. You can explain that the candle flames symbolise the way our aspiration or inner cry for God is reaching up and up, like the flame of the candle, and how light of candles represents God's Light or the wisdom and enlightenment that people are striving to receive in their worship. Draw parallels with birthday cake candles if you like.

    If you have some Hindu Bhajans or Devotional songs on a recording, you can play these. Some children may like to learn them as they are usually very simple and repeat a lot. So you can play these and recognise that now the senses of sight, hearing and smell are being used in the worship.

    When the lights have been moved in a circle in front of the picture or statue, all those woshipping will 'dip their hands into the flames' and then put their hands on their heads and heart; That symbolises taking the blessings and putting them into your mind and heart.

    Now it is time for singing. There are special songs that may be sung during Arati but afterwards there are often some Bhajans sung. They may have a lead and answer pattern so the teacher would sing the lead part and the worshippers would answer - or they may just repeat and repeat so many times that everyone soon learns the words and joins in. If you sing for long then you may like to sit down on the carpet. Most songs are in the Indian languages but there are some in English. One of my favourites is devoted to Krishna. The lyrics are, 'I am missing you, O Krishna, where are you? Though I can't see you, I hear your flute all the while. Do come, wipe my tears, and make me smile... Then it repeats and repeats. The tune is hauntingly beautiful too.

    Next the teacher can ask everyone to throw their flowers and grass onto the statue. This is where action and touch come into play.

    The teacher can then take a basin of water which has been standing near to the statue, getting the blessings from the deity or Avatar. Using a feather, the teacher can splash a bit of water over everyone. The more you get, the stronger the blessing, (or that's how it feels to me.)

    Finally, each person who has come to worship receives some Prasad, which is a blessed gift. It is usually fruit and sweets but it can also be a nicely written prayer-card. And then it is time to leave the Mandir, bowing to the statue or picture before walking away,

    At the door the teacher can stand with a small dish of sandle-wood paste. As each of the worshippers leaves the room, the teacher puts some paste on the middle of their forehead, (marking the 'third eye' which is the inner eye that sees God in the inner world)

    Then, ringing the bell again to show you are leaving, it is time to put on your shoes on at the door.

    With KS3 when I have done this - which is not for a while because you need them to be really well behaved - the children sit down in silence and just think about all that they have done and what it felt like. Ideally they then write about it, still in silence.

    Then you can get some good discussion and just let them talk about what they have done and what it felt like.

    I would not compare one place of worship with another or do drawings or sticking activities. Use role-play. It is much more meaningful and they will remember it for much longer.

    All the best in whatever you do. DurgaMata
  4. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Hello again.

    I've spent over 2 hours writing the above, and it may be useful to others in the future so I have also uploaded it as a document within the section on Hinduism Day. It's great to see that over 1,000 people have now looked at that particular resource and four have 'favourited' it - but please do try to give some comment, feedbacks, star ratings etc as that helps me to know what is most useful and how to improve my resources in the future.

    There's a lot more I would like to add but only so much time to do it.

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