Every Sunday, early in the morning, they used to shout from the street, “Parmodjee, Parmodjee,” but “Parmodjee” was always in sleep, till I woke up and dressed in Khaki shorts, a white shirt and a ‘danda’ in my hand to the welcome of my ‘Shakha’ buddies.

Marching towards our little neighbourhood playground, we were joined by more ‘Jees’; some were ready, and for others, like me, we waited for a few minutes.

Hard to pronounce the first two words, especially for me at that young age in the early ’50s; it was an outfit of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) promoting physical activities and instilling some “Hindu cultural values.”

The place was called “Shakha,” literary meaning branch, that the RSS started all over India to provide physical and character training thru “Hindu discipline,” whatever that meant.

It was a recreational activity involving a few games like “Kho, Kho,” or chasing and knocking the opponents out of the little circle on one leg.

At the end of one hour of indigenous sports, where there was no sports equipment or protective gear, we all gathered, about 20 to 25, for the flag ceremony and prayer in Sanskrit, which perhaps nobody understood. The flag was not a national Tricolour but a deep orange colour of triangular shape.

Before I could imbibe any of the values of RSS of “upholding Hindu culture,” my association for a few months with the Shakha regime ended when I switched to sports like cricket and soccer. There exists more thrill and excitement than chasing guys on one foot.

No more “Parmodjee, Parmodjee,” though a very dignified call, but it was too early Sunday morning; I always wished they would go away without me, but never.

-Promod Puri

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your’Shakha’ experience,Promod. I too had my experience with’Shakha’ for about 2/3 sessions in the early 60’s while attending Science College in Jammu. Yes, it only lasted those 2/3 sessions as I graduated into other activities such as NCC, Hockey & Cricket. Thanks for these old memories. Cheers

    AP Singh

    Liked by 1 person

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