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Thread: In need of volunteers

  1. #1
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    In need of volunteers

    Vannakkam: Temples in the west run differently than some temples in the east. In the east, a family and friends or a priesthood will run the temples. (Not always, but for the most part.) This has lead to a subconscious habit pattern, I believe, where you go to a temple to worship, but not to work. I'm wondering if anyone has ideas on how to change that, and I only really have experience with one temple. Through the grapevine I've heard that other temples struggle as well.

    Here there are a few people who will willingly jump right in, but not most. "Someone else's job" seems to be the mantra.
    Some day the old guys like me won't be there. What happens then? As I'm working away, (volunteer landscaping) people walk past, may stop to say 'Hi', but rarely offer help. A kind old man, must be 80+ comes every day these days. He uses a cane, hails from Delhi, and today asked, "Can I help you?" Of course he couldn't but it certainly struck me that if it would have been 40 years ago, he would have.

    Ideas?

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Namaste EMji,

    It is an observation of mine that in the West Iit tends to not occur to people that they can volunteer and/or any organization might be looking for volunteers. Putting up postings on the Temple's community bulletin board, website and quarterly fliers, (if there are any, many Temples I've been to have a combination, if not all three), asking and encouraging volunteers and/or youth groups to help out, or even asking for donations to pay for it if there aren't volunteers, may help. Often here people would prefer to give money than dig in soil and deal with bugs and worms, which is too bad but also a solution if more people donate.

    The Satsang Center I visit, (not officially a Temple), has register pages posted near the entrance where Families can sign up to donate for specific Holiday rituals and celebrations, MahaPrasad every 2 weeks, and other activities. One register is to volunteer your Family to cook and hand out, then clean after, MahaPrasad. There's also one to sign up for flower donation for inside and one for the yard (annuals), and yeard maintenance. They used to update the quarterly flier on the website when there is a shortfall of volunteers, but not so much this year -though it seems everything is getting done anyway.

    Youth and community outreach programs beyond the Hindu community, and classes, are also often posted in these areas and online and keep people engaged in the Temple and community. I've seen some Temples I have visited be very active in these ways.

    I don't know if any of these are helpful at all. They're not really new ideas and may already be in place or impractical for your Temple. I do hope good solutions are found. Perhaps no one volunteers to help with landscaping because you do such a fine job?

    ~Pranam
    ~~~~~
    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Namaste EM,

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    As I'm working away, (volunteer landscaping) people walk past, may stop to say 'Hi', but rarely offer help.
    That is a very pleasant experience. My days as a temple volunteer involved people putting a big red circle on my back and then shooting arrows , if you know what I mean. No one would join me to help out but there were plenty of evaluators watching my every move and giving suggestions/critique from the sidelines.

    My only suggestion is for the temple to get paid help. One thing I have seen is that many temples raise more money than they need and then just squirrel it away. Temple related work is always expected to be shram daan (donated labor), but with people working 40+ hours a week on their jobs and unwilling to do volunteer work, the only solution is to offer some compensation to low income member families for the temple work or to hire outside help. Might not be what you are looking for, but that is the state of affairs we find ourselves in.

    Pranam.

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Vannakkam: Thanks guys for the suggestions. Last year I did put up a sign, and it stayed up for 3 months before I took it down. But I think the 'problem' runs deeper than that. I think it's more that emotional barrier gap from 'I can't' to 'I can'. Lets take vegetarianism as an example. Now, personally, I find it easy. But for someone to suddenly have this 'Ah ha" moment and think 'I can be a vegetarian', seems to be quite the step.

    Same thing for "I can do a simple puja daily' or 'I can go to India if I save money,' or "I can exercise 20 minutes a day'.

    Is it the depth of subconscious programming? Cultural ideas about being an outcast? (WE don't do physical labour.) What is the psychology behind someone not seeing something that stares them in the face? I find this study of human behaviour perplexing at times.

    To be fair, our temple has a ton of volunteers ... the board, helpers at festival time, lamp cleaners, the recycling person, a young man who comes in and mops the main tile area once a week. Besides we do hire out ... the Sunday cook, two managers, a once a week custodian. It's more 'why the attitude of not me' that I'm exploring.

    Maybe I'm just not direct enough. Maybe the next time 2 young men walk by I could just say, "Hey guys, I don't suppose you have a couple hours a week to help cut the lawn."

    Now I've also experienced plenty of no-shows over the years. People who say they'll come but then don't. That's almost more of a hassle cause your plan gets messed then.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Namaste EM Ji,

    Temples in the South India worked differently in the past.Priests only conducted rituals and prepared Naivedya.For all other works there were people,mostly families had the hereditary rights to do things.The flower suppliers supplied flowers for pujas,those who had cows supplied milk,there were hereditary temple music families and similarly there were people who were assigned the work of cleaning and maintaining the temple.Mostly,in return everybody was entitled to a share in the prasada/temple revenue.For example,if 100 laddus were made on a day,after distribution to the devotees,priests,temple accountants,temple dancers,workers everyone would receive a fixed share of laddus.Apart from offerings income,Kings donated villages whose tax used to keep temples running.People used to take pride to be associated with temple activities in the old social structure.

    After temples were taken over by governments,the above system was ended(though most famous and wealthy temples are still involved in long legal battles(Old right holders Vs Govt.) which are now at the Supreme Court of India).Now,the government appoints laborers on contractual basis or as class IV employees who are paid based on government scales.

    Yet,people who had traditional rights still contribute though irregularly.

    The best way I think is to encourage people to participate by pointing out the benefits of doing Seva.As an example,you could put up posters of Saints devotees like Sri Appar Swamy(Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar
    ),Sri Nandanar Nayanar who used to clean temple premises.Also,books like Siva Gyana Siddhi/Siva Gyana Bodha point out that each small activity done for a Siva temple produces not only great Punya but also results in one of the four kinds of Mukti as mentioned in the Saiva Agama Shastras.This might induce people to take up voluntary Seva during weekends.

    Otherwise as Believer Ji said,you may need to employ paid workers.
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Vannakkam Ram: There is definitely a learning curve in the transition from India to the west in the way temples are run. Most here are run by elected boards with membership in a society ... group ownership. Not all are that way though. Some are run by religious institutions like all the ISKCON, BAPS, Chinmaya Mission, or my own Saiva Siddhanta Church temples. Some are also run by individual priest families or individual families. So it does vary, but I'm mostly curious about the ones run by temple management boards. The other kinds run more smoothly, I believe.

    I also believe I see more of this 'not my job' in more recent newcomers. Maybe they just haven't adjusted yet to the way things run here. There is also a human tendency to want some power from the job. If I'm volunteering, I get a say. So there's that gap too.

    BTW, I'm not a member of this temple now, its just the one I go to, and I am a former member.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam Ram:
    I also believe I see more of this 'not my job' in more recent newcomers. Maybe they just haven't adjusted yet to the way things run here. There is also a human tendency to want some power from the job. If I'm volunteering, I get a say.So there's that gap too.
    Aum Namasivaya
    Namaste EM Ji,

    Human tendency!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Srimat Saiva Agamas in their Charyapada(section about daily worship) praise the acts of seva to Lord Shiva's temples greatly.Rishi Tirumular says in Tirumantiram that seva itself is the foundation for higher knowledge.

    12th Tantra of the Tirumantiram says:

    DASA MARGA (PATH OF DEVOTION)
    1502: Ways of Dasamarga:

    Gently light the lamp,
    Gather flowers fragrant,
    Humbly ground the holy paste,
    Softly sweep,
    Sing Lord's Praise,
    Count the crystal beads,
    Anoint in many ways,
    And perform the diverse acts of temple service.

    1503: Hold Fast to Chariya Path
    This the Primal Being, that the Primal Being
    Thus in doubt tossed,
    Away they moved farther and farther from It;
    They know not this is the true Path,
    And worship not;
    Do pursue this appointed way,
    And seek the King of Kings;
    That, in truth, shall quell
    All doubts within you swell.


    1504: All Worship Began From Chariya
    "I meditate on the Moon Nadi on the left,
    I shift on to the Sun Nadi on the right"
    -The worship the yogins thus
    At the Feet of the One perform
    And the worship the Celestial Beings
    Daily to Lord offer,
    All these but begin
    In the Path of Chariya ultimate.


    SALOKYAM (IN GOD'S WORLD)

    1507: Successive Stages to Finite Beatitude:
    The four stages of attainment
    Salokya, Samipya, Sarupya and Sayujya
    Are in gradation reached from Chariya;
    The path of Chariya leads to Salokya;
    And that in turn to Samipya;

    And Samipya shows the way to Sarupya;
    And ultimately to Para of Infinite Space (Sayujya)
    Beyond which there is state none.





    Thus voluntary seva grants Siva Loka Prapthi!If only devotees who visit temples knew that seva is where spiritual practise begins and that it also guarantees a place in Sri Kailasa where Lord Shiva,Devi Uma Parvati,Sri Ganesha,Lord Subrahmanya and Sri Durga Devi reside!
    He dances in the golden hall of Chidambaram, Let us worship His rosy anklet girt Feet.

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Namaste,

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Is it the depth of subconscious programming? Cultural ideas about being an outcast? (WE don't do physical labour.) What is the psychology behind someone not seeing something that stares them in the face? I find this study of human behaviour perplexing at times.
    That indeed is a major factor in people not volunteering for manual labor. In India do-it-yourself style is virtually non-existent and people hire somebody for everything involving manual labor. Some immigrants adopt to the new culture here and others remain stuck in the 'old mud'. The newer ones for sure will never roll up their sleeves and volunteer. I for one, will come over and help you anytime you need an assistant. The only condition is that your temple will have to fly me over there and provide a foam mattress for me to lie down on, in a corner of the temple during frigid northern nights.

    Pranam.

    PS Please consider dropping those undesirable u's from your labor and behavior. You are not answerable to the queen any more.

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Vannakkam: Funny you should notice flavour, labour, etc. I was a teacher, you know, and the curriculum department's official policy was the Queen's English. It also applied to the ise ending versus the ize ending. So I will use socialise. Being a grateful and proud citizen of Canada, I followed it. In reality, with children, either version was acceptable, because some 60% of our books, especially novels, were US published. Canadian published texts used the correct way.

    Not sure if it was ever changed or will ever change, but it was a realistic opportunity to compare things throughout the world, starting with a small example.

    In contrast, i would suggest you start doing it right, instead of using that bastardized nearly pidgin slang of California.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: In need of volunteers

    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    ...instead of using that bastardized nearly pidgin slang of California.

    Aum Namasivaya
    Namaste ji,


    You took the exact words right out of my mouth. Glad you said it first though, I wasn't sure about the acceptability of the vocabulary. Having spent several formative years in the UK, I tend to drop into Queen's English spelling when not tied to autocorrect or Spell Checking. My argument in schools here in the US has always been that the country that created the language is the one who has is right.

    Except for Aluminum. The Brits have that one wrong.


    On topic though, I agree, I think there is an element of classism in this and it isn't limited to any one country or culture. It's here in the US as well, I've had direct experience with it in my condo association very recently, and about Landscaping, no less.

    There is a definite attitude of 'I don't do that kind of sweaty, dirt filled labor (< autocorrect)', even when an individual's parents were much more self sufficient and did their own work. There's a kind of expectation to hire someone else. It starts with excuses like wanting to spend more quality time with the family instead of physical work on upkeep, changes to excuses that they don't have any time between work, commute, family etc, and eventually admissions of 'I just don't like it, it's too hot, strenuous, dirty and I'm afraid of * (insert random creepy-crawly here).

    I can certainly sympathize with most of these. I'm fairly protective of my personal time too, and I often feel like I don't have enough of it to cover everything. But pretty much all of those reasons are really culturally born excuses. My experience has been that most people here are far more willing to pay for someone else to do something they don't want to or don't like, even when they don't really have the money to, rather than be practical and self sufficient, like earlier generations were.

    I feel it's akin to and part of that same consumer mentality where most things now are made to not last long and be thrown away the moment something goes wrong with them, rather than lasting and being fixed to last even longer. And how people hardly know their neighbors anymore. Never sit out on the front step or yard and socialize anymore. I have an aunt and uncle who sit in the same room together and text to each other and like and comment on each other's Facebook posts instead of talking.

    There is a growing separation from nature and practical self sufficiency, and a growing loss of sense of community in many ways, I feel. This could be combatted through children's groups through Temples and other gatherings. Teach kids the important things and have them help out in different areas. It won't stick with every single one, but it does leave an impression that comes back and sticks with many in their adult lives.

    ~Pranam
    ~~~~~
    What has Learning profited a man, if it has not led him to worship the good feet of Him who is pure knowledge itself?
    They alone dispel the mind's distress, who take refuge at the feet of the incomparable one.
    ~~Tirukural 2, 7

    Anbe Sivamayam, Satyame Parasivam

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