Muslim teen pens winning essay in Rajasthan Gita contest

JAIPUR: A self-confessed Sanskrit lover, 16-year-old Nadeem Khan has been declared the winner of a state-level Sanskrit essay competition on Bhagvad Gita in the Rajasthan capital.

At a ‘Gita Fest’ organised by the Akshaya Patra Foundation that concluded on Monday, two other Muslim students from Jaipur, Zaheen Naqvi of Class II and Zorabia Nagori of Class IV, also bagged top positions in a contest on the recitation of Gita verses.

The winners will receive their awards on Wednesday. A student of Class X at a government s chool, Khan, the son of a labourer, has had a keen interest in Sanskrit language ever since it was introduced in his curriculum in Class VI. “I find this language best among all known to me. I never found it alien despite the fact that I rarely get a chance to speak it, even in my class. The competition has acknowledged my devotion for the language,” said Khan.

 “In my Sanskrit class, the teacher rarely speaks the language. They ask us to only focus on writing in Sanskrit. I am not fluent in speaking Sanskrit,” he added. The teenager, however, will not able to make it to the award ceremony. “I have an exam on Wednesday but my parents and grandmother will collect the prize on my behalf,” said Khan.
The foundation organised three competitions – essay on Gita, recitation of Gita verses and handwriting competitions – which saw participation by over 8,000 students from 200 schools across Rajasthan.

Tanveer Ahmed, a government employee in the health department, was upbeat about daughter Zaheen’s win. “My daughter worked very hard. Every day she would memorise verses from the Gita for hours to improve her diction and pronunciation. It’s a proud moment for us,” said Ahmed.

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