As reported by the Indian Express, the Uttarakhand government has decided to instruct all the 18,000 government-run schools covering 12 lakh students to chant the ‘Bhojan Mantra’ (a mantra for food) before having mid-day meals. The mantra may also be painted on the walls of the kitchens in all schools.
The Uttarakhand education minister Arvind Pandey and other officials suggested including chanting the Sanskrit prayers in the school’s curriculum. However, it will it be mandatory for students to chant the prayers. It is also made sure that the decision is not forced upon any students and implementation is left to the discretion of the school authorities and the students.
“In the review meeting, the school education minister and several officials of the school education department suggested that the Bhojan Mantra be chanted before children eat the midday meals. We are planning to send out instructions for it to the concerned offices. However, chanting the mantra or painting it on the kitchen walls won’t be compulsory. It will be left to the discretion of the school authorities and the students.” R. K. Kunwar, Director, School Education, said.
He also said that there were several decisions taken during the meeting to include the Yoga practice in the daily curriculum, creating awareness about great Indian national leaders, more emphasis on Kumaoni- Garhwali languages in the region and also starting the school day with either Gayatri Mantra or Saraswati Vandana.
Recently, the Central government has also decided to include the values and knowledge systems of ancient India in their textbooks. NCERT textbooks will now have additional information on Ayurveda, Upanishads, Smritis, Yoga and other scientific achievements of ancient India in areas such as Astronomy, Metallurgy, Chemistry and Indian Philosophy.