Tihar inmates take the spiritual road

Fifty-seven-year-old Gabriel, a Nigerian, never thought that making powdered colours for the Holi festival in Tihar Jail would lead him on the path of spirituality and soothe his conscience, blotted after spending 37 years of his life in criminal activities.

Gabriel, a drug peddler who also forged passports, is an undertrial and has been lodged in jail No. 3 for the last five years. “I wasted 37 years of my life in petty crimes. The last five years I have repented for my mistakes and I am a new man now,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel now counsels young prisoners on how to reform their lives once they are free.
“He is helping the youngsters here in mending their ways and focussing on the right things,” Tihar spokesperson Sunil Gupta said.

Gabriel is among 88 prisoners – 50 male and 38 female – who are undergoing reformation sessions with the help of meditation as well as imbibing soft skills that will help them get employed once they complete their sentences.

Apart from learning to make colours, an initiative introduced in December 2012 by NGO Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (DJJS), the inmates are also taught how to make incense sticks and herbal beauty products, among others, which are then made available in various malls and markets.

“We emphasize on helping inmates spiritually and teach them yoga and meditation as it prepares them for the normal world outside,” DJJS spokesperson Swami Vishalanand said.

Tihar Jail director general Vimla Mehra said: “While making colours or beauty products, the prisoners learn a new skill which will help in their rehabilitation. The spiritual wisdom teaches them to tread on the right path of life,” she added.

Taking spiritual enlightenment to another level is 40-year-old Hari Prakash.

“The spiritual classes here have changed me. When I leave this place I won’t think like I was in jail, but in an ashram,” said Prakash, who has been lodged in the jail since 2002 for killing his neighbour over a property dispute.

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