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Letter from a Youth Member Sharanu Sharanarthi, Congratulations to the winners of the most recent Central VSNA election! It was a close race and it was great to see the democratic process in action. My name is Tejas Aralere and I am a youth member from the Basava Samiti (DC/VA) Chapter. Because of my parents' involvement in VSNA, I have been a member since before I can remember, and in fact, our annual family trip, other than flying to India, would be to whichever city the VSNA convention was being hosted. I remember those events fondly. I also think that most children born to parents who are VSNA members consider it their extended family. These aunties and uncles see us grow up almost from the moment we're born. Thus, VSNA has been a powerful influence throughout my life and I care for it deeply. Now to the topic at hand and the reason I'm writing this letter in which the views expressed are solely my own. As a youth member of the organization, I have been wondering what the future of VSNA is. As I think about my childhood, attending VSNA functions was as much a community event as a religious one. We all sat together, as the children still do in our chapter, and did Linga puja, and then the adults usually had a discussion about a vachana or another topic of interest. We would also do community service which is very important for building civic-mindedness in young people. These aspects of VSNA are still alive, which is great to see in our technology-filled age. I think that it is important for our more "youthful" youth members to interact with our religion by learning to say vachanas, by performing skits and plays, and through workshops and discussions. These activities give children multiple ways to access our religion. Having participated in all these different chapter and convention activities and the competitions, I can say that VSNA has shaped my identity as an American Veerashaiva. Now as an older youth member, I've been thinking about VSNA in a different way. I'm no longer a child that attends functions with his parents, but am not yet married in order to be considered an adult member of the organization. I'm in a sort of liminal position as an older "youth" and I know that there are many other VSNA members in the same position. Therefore, I feel that mine is a valid perspective from which to assess our organization. I've been thinking a lot about what VSNA is supposed to do for me now that I'm older? And more broadly, how does VSNA, an organization created 40 years ago, see itself 40 years from now? To answer these two questions, I first needed to know how our organization defined itself in its official documents. I thought I'd look on the Central VSNA website which I found to be recently updated and just excellent! Kudos to the people who revamped it to make the information easily accessible. I navigated to the section that had all the official VSNA documents, including the by-laws and manuals for VSNA officers. I read these documents trying to understand what the Samaja is all about. I knew, just by being part of it, that VSNA was dedicated to keeping Veerashaivism thriving in America for those who immigrated here and their children, but I wanted to hear the organization speak for itself. Why was it created? How did VSNA define itself? What did it see as its purpose in the present and what was its vision for the future? A few things stood out to me as I read these by-laws and administrative manuals, first about the Samaja and second about the duties of the leadership positions. According to these documents, the purpose of VSNA can be summarized as what I'll abbreviate as the 3 P's: "preservation, promotion, and propagation" of Veerashaivism in America. Relating to the youth, the three I's are listed: to "instill, imbibe, and impart" Veerashaivism to "our off-spring" and to give them a "sense of identity." As I thought more on this topic, I found myself wondering how VSNA will change to meet our modern needs and especially how it's doing these 3 P's in 2018. Are we keeping this organization relevant not only for our newer immigrant members and their children, but also for the children and families of the first generation of VSNA members? The latter, many of whom are older than me, have their own families now and so, do they feel like the organization is achieving the 3 P's and I's? The cultural, political, and socio-economic conditions in which this organization was formed in 1978 vastly differ from today's circumstances. How are we "instilling, imbibing, and imparting" our Veerashaiva heritage to the members of VSNA now? This question almost inevitably comes up during workshops in VSNA conventions where someone asks a visiting swamiji how to keep Veerashaivism relevant to the 21st century and make it relevant for the youth. 11

Profile for VSNA VSNA

Baandhavya Sept-Dec 2018  

4th quarter newsletter

Baandhavya Sept-Dec 2018  

4th quarter newsletter

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