This story is one of courage and of faith, Of winning, and losing – but never letting go!
It all began in June, 2012. Megha Bajaj, an award winning author, happened to be walking with her sister, Dr Nidhi Gupta (a physiotherapist) on the terrace. Although they both were doing very well in their respective careers, something seemed to be missing. They both felt, acutely, the need to reach out to children – to the next generation and teach them aspects of life, way beyond academics. They wished to create something extraordinary. To give creativity wings. But it is never easy to step out of a set pattern. To try something new, to give it a shot, is never an easy decision.
Some ideas, however, just do not lose their hold. Instead they keep growing in strength and in energy. No matter how much they tried to let go of the gnawing feeling that children needed that “something” beyond academics to lead a more holistic and fulfilling life. And one of those days, as co-incidence would have it, they met their uncle Mr Rajesh Chaudhary who managed to fuel their passion and give it a structure and direction.
Miraaya holistic growth centre was formed with its first ever branch at Chembur on 26th September, 2012. A vast, beautiful space of over 2500 square feet area came for a price. As did all the staff and carefully hand-picked teachers to teach children some of the most important aspects of life. With no background in economics or marketing, the duo with a lot of support from Mr Rajesh, began to work on faith. They began to work on spiritual laws of abundance rather than bookish knowledge. On days when there were just two or three children in a class meant for ten, they would tell themselves, “Our dream is to reach out to as many children as we can… and the Universe will listen to us.”
Initially parents took some time to warm up to the innovative concepts being taught at miraaya. A beautiful example was: to ensure children do not undergo complex related to looks, two rabbits were brought to class: A white, and a black. Children were asked to relate to both and at the end they were asked, “So did the skin colour make a difference in the love you felt?” A girl, about eight, summed the experience so beautifully when she replied, “No teacher – no difference at all. I now know it is not SKIN but what is IN that makes all the difference.”
From one class, one batch,miraaya began to grow to two, three, four, ten classes and multiple batches. It evolved to become a space for holistic health for moms and dads and holistic learning for children. Growing popularity brought them the opportunity to start associate branches at Worli and Nerul. Much more than marketing – it was word of mouth that began to build a trust within parents who started realizing this very important FACT: After my child has learnt all the Science, Language and Math there is to learn – if he still doesn’t know how to make eye contact, or deal with bullying; if she doesn’t know how to be a leader and yet work with a team, isn’t his or her education incomplete?
At miraaya through language, through art, through dance, music, science and Math – something important was being taught, and this was LIFE SKILLS. The miraaya children began to get noticed on bigger platforms. One saw his words get published in Times of India, many others who thought they could never write, began to see their expressions published in Robin Age. A miraaya art student won the Chembur Art festival attended by 5000 children. The topic was conservation – so she made a man with a camera and a tiger with the caption, “Shoot – but with love.”
Besides this, parents began to write to miraaya about some wonderful little intangible changes that they began to see in their children: shy children were blossoming, over confident children were learning to give others a chance and show team spirit; an overall sense of culture and love for India was beginning to seep in, gratitude which seemed to be missing was becoming more prominent. Vandana Trivedi, Director of Assets and a miraaya mom happily shares, “When I put my children in miraaya I thought they would develop a love for reading or better communication – instead I found them become better people. I simply love miraaya for my children and it is their favourite place to be!”
Jennifer Peterson, Social Worker from Calgary shares, “We were in India for a short stint and discovered miraaya by chance. Thank God we did. My son loved his month there and learnt certain Universal Truths that I would never know how to teach him. I plan to bring miraaya here as their teachings are needed across the world.”
A very basic website, almost no marketing efforts – and yet today miraaya has three more franchises, two nationally and one internationally. There are five more coming up before the year ends. Several investors based in various different countries are now looking at miraaya very seriously.
Barely three years old, miraaya holistic growth centre has managed to create a niche for itself. The journey has by no means been easy. One of the most challenging phases for Megha Bajaj and Dr Nidhi Gupta was when their mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer in the first year of miraaya. Running between hospitals, trying to stay calm, ensuring that their worry does not reflect on miraaya was a year they will never forget. Through this year, they held on to the words of their spiritual mentor, Mahatria, Ra who said – “When you both are bringing so many smiles to so many children – will God wipe off the smile from your faces by taking your mother away?”
Sheer grit and determination, love and faith not only brought their mother back to life (doctors claim she is a miracle because she can now walk, dance, do yoga for hours and lead a perfectly normal life which is not only rare but almost impossible for people in similar situations) and is slowly making miraaya a brand to reckon. Their mother, in fact, now teaches at miraaya.
Megha Bajaj believes, “If you have a dream, put in everything you can to make it true. It is better to fail than to live with regret. It takes a leap of faith – but if flying is a possibility, I am willing to take the jump.”
Dr Nidhi Gupta shares, “There are times when you want to give up, but these are the times when you need to go on. And when you do, Life surprises you in the most beautiful ways.”
Over 400 children across the world are now a part of miraaya and more than 20,000 children are a part of their most popular program called WoW 3 L’s (Wonder of Words: Language + Life + Leadership skills). They hope to see many more children learn about life and leadership, love and faith, confidence and expression through miraaya – as it is their firm belief that an evolved inner world is what leads to success in the world outside – not pure academics. Students of life – is what they wish for children to become. Amen, to that.