In the world so filled with hate, anguish, religious differences and racism; where people get divided on the basis of beliefs and practices. It’s kind of a fresh breeze to come across such news where, 12 years old kid become a subject of inspiration and eye opener for people who divide and incite haters to gain some personal and political mileage. Mariyam Asif Siddiqui, a class VI student of Cosmopolitan High School in Mumbai won the first prize of an inter-school Bhagavad Gita competition ‘Gita Champions League‘ held in March this year for explaining the teachings of the scripture in the best possible manner, organised by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Mumbai. The 100 marks multiple-choice questions based test evaluate children on the basis of the learning and understanding of Gita. More than 195 schools and 4,617 students participated in the tough contest where Mariyam excelled the occasion making her parent and society proud. Interestingly her father Asif Naseem Siddiqui is an editor of a local Hindi political magazine called Vartaman News.

She has been a centre of attraction since then however she maintains that Why should I be any different? Why treat me differently, just because I am from different religion! Even in school we have never treated each other differently on the basis of caste or religion,” she said, adding that her parents have also told her to treat each other equally. She also believes that most Indians respect all religions, but some say damaging things. I would just say ‘you must listen to your parents, but if your parents and teacher tell you to discriminate against others, then don’t listen to them. Following her success and inspiring story Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi met her and tweeted a picture with her calling Mariyam Asif Siddiqui a young friend and also praised her initiative to donate 11,000 prize money towards Prime minister’s relief fund and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Congratulating Siddiqui for her feat, Modi gifted her five books on different religions. She was accompanied by her parents, Asif Naseem Siddiqui and Farhan Asif Siddiqui.

Narendra Modi also shared pictures with her on his Facebook page to which Mariyam Asif Siddiqui replied “Thanx a lot :) was the best day of my life :)”. The post has got over 1.5 Lakhs likes and around 7000 shares.

modi younf friend mariyam

Mariyam Asif Siddiqui’s religious quest is not just limited to Gita or Koran, she says, “This was the first time that I had attempted to read the Gita. We were also shown CDs in school to help us understand the book better. I read it for a month and then gave an objective test. I have also read the Bible. She developed an interest in the Bible because of her friends. When I used visit them, they used to tell me stories behind different festivals celebrated by them. This got me interested in the Bible, she added. The most important teaching that has stayed with her after reading the Gita is that you should always do the right thing and have the right faith, said Maryam, adding that she also shares her knowledge with her three younger brothers. While her father, said, These kids are the future of our nation. They should not be divided by religions and should be taught to respect all religions. We encouraged Mariam to recite the Gita though in English, to make her understand the importance of the Mahabharata in Hindu religion. We also wish to teach her about different religions.

After making her first attempt into learning Hindu scriptures, Siddiqui plans to continue her study of the Gita, and wish to make a career in law. “The Gita is the same as the Koran. They both came from the Gods. They have different stories but the same principles,” she said. “Swachh means the same in both: Clean.”

Way to go girl!

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Contributor: Shivaji Singh

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