Lucknow, March 17 : Lucknow's Baba Neem Karori Maharaj Ved Karmakand Shiksha Niketan to take education in Vedic culture and training to become priest.
Students living at the institute have to abide by many rules and regulations that may otherwise be quite tough for youngsters. They are forbidden to entertainment themselves from radio, television, cellular phone and other modern gadgets.
However, the present batch of 18 students between six and 13 years of age is quite drawn to cricket. Every week at least twice or thrice they take time out in the evenings and play to their heart's content for over one hour.
"I love cricketers Mahender Singh Dhoni, Saurav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar because they play really well," said Devash Tiwari, one of the trainee priests and the cricket team captain at the Ved Karmakand Shiksha Niketan.
Besides, the authorities at the institute have allowed them playing cricket for physical fitness. It is believed that is no harm if one familiarizes oneself with what is popular in every household.
"They do not play on daily basis but twice or thrice in a week. They have interest for playing cricket as much as they have in studying. They play really well," said A. K. Sinha, Principal of the Ved Karmakand Shiksha Niketan.
Even while playing these student priests are wearing their traditional dress-Dhoti (unstitched cloth draped up to waist mostly by Brahmins) and sporting tufts atop their pates.
Having forbidden watching television due to institute's regulations, they keep themselves updated about cricket through newspaper reports.
"We teach Vedic tradition and scriptures. But we have this free time during the evening which we use to spend by watching television back at home. When we saw our team performing well in the game, we started playing the same," said Sarwesh, another student-priest and cricket enthusiast.
At the institute, the day starts at 4 o'clock and by dawn (around 5 o'clock), these students chant Shlokas as part of their four years' training course. Three years are devoted to learning about Vedic culture and practices whereas the last year is for learning astrology.
On completion of their course, these trainee priests will be eligible to take up jobs in various temples. These students are very accurate in studying planetary positions and perform rituals while abiding by them.
However, these 18 trainees are concerned with how the Team India is performing on their Australia tour. They wish from the cricketers to just avoid controversies and keep enjoying the game to the fullest. By Kamna Mathur