What is a Pãtašãlã?
Pãtašãlã, a Sanskrit word literally meaning “a place for lessons” (both taught and learned), is basically a school. Our Temple is not just a place of worship, but is also a center for religious and cultural education. The central place for the Temple’s academic and religious educational activities is the Temple’s Pãtašãlã. Cultural education takes place either in the Temple basement or in the Music room which is adjacent to the Raghavendra sannidhi (sanctum).
More importantly, during the annual Pãtašãlã celebrations and also through invitations to perform at various community events, there are ample opportunities for the children to showcase their talents. Most of all, the dedicated teachers of the Pãtašãlã provide mature, adult supervision to the children essentially on every Saturday of the year thereby augmenting the resources available to our children so that they learn our culture and tradition. While clearly the parents bear the primary responsibility for any child’s growth, the cultural and religious education that is provided here bring about another valuable dimension to the overall development of the children.
The Pãtašãla is truly a pride and joy of the Temple. Our Temple recognizes the fact that this is the place where the future of our children’s religious and cultural education, and therefore the future of our Temple, Community and the very continuation of our religion and culture rely on. However the Pãtašãla is not standing on its own. It relies on the Temple to provide the forum to practice what is being taught in the Pãtašãla. This fact has been realized by the parents also. Many of the teachers, coordinators and administrators of the Pãtašãla have become dedicated volunteers of our Temple and vice versa.
Where is the Pãtašãlã located?
The Pãtašãlã is the two-storied yellow building located behind the Temple, a short distance away from the Navagraha and Nãgendra Sannidhis (sanctums).
The Temple’s Pãtašãla began in 1998 in a modest way in a make-shift classroom. In 2004, the school proudly relocated to this current location – a dedicated Pãtašãla building. It is run entirely by volunteer teachers.
The Temple school currently serves as an important place where children come to learn about Hinduism, sing Bhajans, chant Šlokas and learn various languages of their ancestors such as Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi and Samskritam. This is also the place where they supplement their academic education by getting individualized help in Math, English and Science.
How many Children benefit from the services of the Pãtašãla?
Over 150 children from ages 5 to 17 are currently enrolled in the Pãtašãla. They benefit from a wholesome academic, religious and cultural education.
The Pãtašãla is a popular place for children and their parents during Saturdays. Regular weekly classes are conducted here, focusing on education and fine arts. The children, who attend the Pãtašãla regularly, tend to form a strong bond with each other. Most children dress up in Indian clothes and have fun learning with other like-minded students. This once-a-week immersive environment helps the students become comfortable with themselves and to also form a strong sense of pride in their Hindu American identity.
Hundreds of children have passed through the Temple school in the past ten years. As a testament to their appreciation of the Pãtašãla, many have come back to “give back” to the Pãtašãla by doing Sévã (selfless service) as tutors and mentors to younger children.
Who are the teachers of the Pãtašãlã?
The Pãtašãla teachers are all dedicated qualified volunteer teachers who teach as part of their sevã. Teaching is undertaken as an expression of their love of God coupled with their love of the subject as well as the children. The teachers bring not only their expertise and knowledge to the classrooms, but also their life experiences, making it a wholesome experience for both the children and themselves.
The tutors are also dedicated volunteers who were often Pãtašãla students themselves. This service, as with other services in the Temple, can count towards Community Service hours for High School students.
What classes are offered in the Pãtašãlã?
Every Saturday, the following courses are offered in the Pãtašãla from 8:30 to 4:00 (All timings are subject to change):
Math, Bhajans, Šloka, Religion/Dharma, Indian Languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada, English, Advanced Math, Science, Sanskrit and SAT help. On Sundays from 9:30 to 1:00PM, Sanskrit is offered for both children and adults.
Vishnu Sahasranãmam chanting, Vedic chanting and Divya Prabandha classes are held for adults during weekday evenings. Yoga, Prãnayãma & Meditation classes take place on Sundays. As part of the fine arts, activities Temple has classical Bharathanãtyam & Kathak dances and classical vocal and instrumental (Veena/guitar/keyboard) music classes are given by trained teachers.