SSVT – Socio Spiritual Community Partnership

3 February 2022

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A Socio-Spiritual Community Partnership

Ravi Subramanian

Any community outreach initiative that improves the emotional wellbeing of elderly residents is laudable. And, if it fosters social consciousness and inclusivity, especially amongst the youth, it must be encouraged. And, if it is simple and sustainable, it becomes priceless. It must be supported.

ThOne such initiative is the monthly temple visit, a collaborative effort between Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple (SSVT) at Ceylon Road and Sree Narayana Mission (SNM)./p>

These are socio-spiritual visits to the temple, wherein wheel-chair bound elderly residents from SNM are hosted by volunteers from SSVT. The residents, numbering around ten to twelve, perform a circumambulation of the temple, followed by prayers and blessings. Later, the residents enjoy a simple temple cooked vegetarian meal in the company of volunteers.

The residents experience the richness and vibrancy of the temple with all their senses through colours, rituals, smells and sounds. Some get to maintain the practices they may have followed when more able-bodied. There are opportunities to interact with other worshippers facilitating a profound social cohesion.

The participating youth volunteers also benefit. They gain insights from the life lessons of elders, realise the richness of the local culture, understand the values of respect and compassion, and learn about eldercare.

These visits have impacted the residents positively. A brief study that analysed the mood, sleep patterns and the distress levels of the participating residents were encouraging. The feedback from the surveys reflects it. Here’s a sample:

Staff – Whenever they go to the temple, they feel happy emotionally and spiritually. They are excited
to go back. They will ask us when their next visit will be. They really want to go and pray every month.

The program’s success and consistency come from its simplicity. There is little financial investment. Families and professionals find it convenient to participate, as it is held once a month on a Sunday for about 2 hours.

Naturally, this collaborative work was recognises

SSVT won a Special Merit Award for the “Most Creative Community Partnerships” at the Asian Elderly Care Awards, 2019, organised by Managing Elderly Care, Asia’s Premier Learning Conference and Expo for professionals, managers and organisations to Get and Serve Elderly Clients. This coveted award will be presented in March 2020.

In conclusion, a community collaboration of this kind helps to build an inclusive society. It is worth replicating. In this partnership, SNM benefited immensely. SSVT was the reason for its success.

Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore) Pte.

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