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January 2020 : Sadhu Vaswani Mission held an awards ceremony for children, specially held to recognize & encourage the budding artists in the state of Maharashtra. The annual competition commemorates the International Meatless Day, 25th November, the birthday of Revered Sadhu Vaswani, founder of the Mission. The theme of the Drawing & Painting Competition was based on the teaching of Revered Sadhu Vaswani – ahimsa (compassion).

The competition was co-sponsored by State Bank of India, Main Branch, Pune and jointly coordinated with Venus Stationary traders. The function was held on 25th January 2020 at Sadhu Vaswani Mission, Pune. Students, parents and art teachers turned out in huge numbers for the ceremony.

Attendees, upon entering the Mission, were served with welcome drinks. They then proceeded on to the Sacred Samadhi of the Great Masters — Revered Sadhu T.L. Vaswani and Revered Dada J.P. Vaswani. “I have heard Dada Vaswani speak earlier and being at the Samadhi has given me an experience of positivity and bliss,” said Chetna Rokde, a parent at the awards ceremony.

The exhibition area showcased the top entries of the various categories. Proud parents and children posed enthusiastically of pictures in front of the exhibits. “I am an artist myself and I see the display that has been shortlisted is indeed breathtakingly beautiful,” said a parent, Nilesh Mahajan. Sameena Sundke, Principal, Lady Zubeida Qurashie English Primary High School, said, “The subject is truly innovative. This assuredly brings about an awareness in the children.”

The awards ceremony began with the lighting of the lamp by dignitaries and committee members of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission.

Vishal Solanki, I.A.S. Commissioner (Education), Maharashtra State was the Chief Guest for the programme. Speaking on the ceremony he said, “Sadhu Vaswani and Dada Vaswani served the society selflessly and through their exemplary of life showed us the true way of living. Such competitions help the children reflect on their teachings and I hope the Mission conducts more such competitions that will help foster brotherhood and love in the society.”

Dattatray Jagtap, Director of Primary Education, Maharashtra State and Charuhas Pandit, Eminent Cartoonist were the Guest of Honours. Charuhas Pandit gave a LIVE demonstration of his famous artwork and cartoon character — Chintu. He also shared some tips of making cartoon faces easily. Children and parents alike loved the segment.

Judges for the final winners were Ramakrishna Kamble and Samir Agale, award-winning and internationally acclaimed artists. “Judging these paintings was a tough task. But what we observed was that there was creativity and variety. We had to scrutinise each and every painting and decide upon the winners,” said Kamble. “Originality was what we were looking at. We sincerely hope that parents and teachers encourage the child to listen to their creative mind and not impose upon them to copy an existing artwork. Overall it was a great experience judging the competition,” said Agale.

Didi Krishna Kumari, Working Chairperson of Sadhu Vaswani Mission, speaking at the event said, “25th November, Sadhu Vaswani’s birthday is observed as International Meatless Day. He was an ocean of compassion. As a little child of 5 years, he vowed to become the protector of animals. Sadhu Vaswani had hopes in children, he said that if a new world is to be built, it is the children who are to be entrusted with it. I encourage you, little ones that wherever you go, spread love and be the guardians of animals and birds.”

325 participating schools, with over 1000 people, attended the award ceremony represented by their respective principals, art teachers and 5 qualifying students. 30 finalists were awarded special prizes, and also given appreciation certificates. The first three winners were additionally presented with mementos.

Surender Karamchandani, Venus Traders said, “The Mission is close to my heart and to be involved in this competition is natural. The response has been overwhelming and given us a lot to look forward to for the next year.”

All participating schools were given certificates with some qualifying for mementos. The event concluded with the serving of lunch prasad.

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