Gandhi Memorial School celebrates 70 years

Bharet Morar, chairman of the Gandhi Memorial School committee, addressed the audience.

The Cape Hindu Cultural Society celebrated the 70th anniversary of its Gandhi Memorial School with worship, speeches and children dressed in colourful clothes entertaining guests.

Former and current teachers also participated in a Yagna, which is a traditional ceremony performed, for among other reasons, to commemorate important events and occasions in the lives of the Hindu community.

The event was held at the Radha Krishna Mandir in Rylands earlier this month. The Gandhi Memorial School was established on August 15 1947, by the then United Hindu Association. Today the school is a constitutionally mandated body of the Cape Hindu Cultural Society.

Bharet Morar, the chairman of the school’s committee, said there was “a strong desire for people not to lose their Gujarati culture and upbringing”.

Mr Morar added: “The choice of the name of Gandhi was largely due to the founders being inspired by the views and work of Mahatma Gandhi, and that led to the adoption of the name Gandhi Memorial School (GMS).”

When asked why it was decided to open a school like this at the temple, he said it all came down to the available resources.

“Resources did not permit three separate venues [for the school, the society and the temple], since the building project was privately funded by generous donors from the Gujarati community. Hence, it was felt convenient to keep all of these institutions on the same premises. The primary aim of the GMS is to teach the basic principles of the Gujarati language and to maintain and foster Gujarati as our mother tongue for future generations. The secondary aim is to teach other aspects of Gujarati folklore, like customs, singing, dancing, tales, arts, spirituality, etcetera.”

The no fee school is funded and supported by the Cape Hindu Cultural Society. It also receives donations from members of the community.

Mr Morar said the school had seen many success stories since it opened 70 years ago, and children who attended it understood the basic principles of Gujarah language and culture. Most could speak the language while others could read and write it.

“The school annually hosts a musical concert (Meravdoh) where classical and visual arts performances are delivered by the children. Annual events include the concerts, the popular Gandhi Walk, workshops, Raksha Bandan visits to the community (entailing a ceremony between siblings), as well as participation in various religious and cultural activities.”