Celebration of a Life

Mira Raheja

11-11-1926    to   28-11-2019

Mira was born on November 11, 1926 in Kamalia near Lahore now in Pakistan. One of 11 siblings she was always the most lively and active member of the family who was in many ways the glue keeping the entire family together.

Mira had studied Bachelor of Arts from Khalsa College for Women in Lahore, followed by a diploma in education and specialization in Montessori education.

She contributed to the freedom struggle of India and took part in several protest marches in Lahore during her college days.

She was married at the age of 20 to late Mohinder Lal Raheja on October 2, 1946.

She was a born leader with great organizational skills, strong will power and sheer determination to achieve her goals.

Mira had been an educationist and a social worker all her life.

After partition in 1947, she engaged herself in social work in refugee camps in Jallandhar. In 1948, her husband got a job in Abohar and Mira started her education career with a job as Headmistress in Arya Middle High School. She was an elected member of the Panchayat in Nilokheri and was complimented by the Prime Minister Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.

Mira carried on with education and social work until the end of her life. She founded two private senior secondary schools in Faridabad in 1967 that are still running and have more than 2,000 students each. She received many awards and recognition from the government of Haryana and was also accoladed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mira was very spiritual and a staunch devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. She was the Founder President of the organization that built a temple for Shirdi Sai Baba in Sector 16 A Faridabad. All her children and grand children learnt spirituality from her.

Meera and her husband  migrated to Australia in 2000 to join her son and daughter and was soon bored at home with little action. On her own initiative she started the Indian Seniors Group in Hornsby (ISGH), managed to rent a community hall in Asquith and got the ball rolling. She put out membership notices at Woolies and Coles community boards in Westfield Shopping Centre Hornsby. Soon the membership soared to over a 100. Mira received the NSW Premier’s award for her services to the community.

Rahejas moved to an aged care home in the later years but then moved back home where Mohinder Raheja passed away due to a heart condition in October 2012. A few months after his demise, Mira moved back into aged care as her care need increased due to frail health. In the last two years Mira lived at the Southern Cross Care at Marsfield where she participated in all the activities of the centre. Mira loved to paint and has a lot of her paintings hung in the centre.

She was still knitting scarves at 92 for most of the family and would say that ”˜when you wear it you would remember me’. She knitted baby suits for most of the great grand-children as well as for the charity outlet at the Ryde Hospital Main Reception.

She also wrote poetry in English and Hindi and would recite one as a prayer to the Lord.

Meera is survived by her eldest daughter Meena, then daughter Manju, son Devendra and youngest son Virendra. Mira donated her kidney to son Devendra almost 30 years back who, unfortunately, he did not live long after the transplant.

Mira has 9 grandchildren, Anupam, Chandni, Rachna, Deepika, Shiv, Madhavi, Vaishali, Anmol and Aditi. She also has 6 great grandchildren Amariya, Jaya, Mikka, Annuska, Phoenix and Zane. One more is on its way.

Says her son Virendra Raheja, “She was so particular about wishing us a happy birthday on family birthdays, that she would insist upon being taken to a shop to choose the card herself. She would then further decorate the card to make it personal. She would call each grandchild on their birthdays. She was particularly fond of Anmol who always dedicated himself in support of his grandparents.”

Her wishes were written in her hand on a paper that the family found, which go as follows:

May you always have sunshine to greet you

Adventures to meet you

Joy in whatever you do

God’s presence to guide you

Good friends beside you

And happiness all the year through.

She said “God Bless You” to everyone she met.

She taught everyone how to live life fully and to be a good human being. She was generous, selfless, caring but firm. Some of her words still ring : “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Lord, O Lord of Lords

I come to thee

With flowers of faith in my hands

I bow to thee

Hold my feeble hands

Lord, O Lord of Lords

You have the power of sorts

I beg at your door

For your mercy to pour

Give me the courage to bear

Old age pains

And sorrows so severe

Lord, O Lord of Lords

Make me strong to realize the truth of life

And teach me to forgive

For I have come to Thee

Only to thee my Lord, so help me please

Lord, O Lord of Lords

I am frail and old

And unable to endure

Take me under your wings

And give me eternal peace

Lord, O Lord of Lords

I come to thee

Please hold me now.

A pioneering lady, Mira started the senior group in Sydney which has inspired people into over a dozen groups running now in Sydney, serving the seniors and looking after their special needs, providing much needed platform for ageing, helping them to find friends, fight loneliness and getting respite when needed. Mira ji’s vision for the seniors was much ahead of its time and is now manifested in well meaning people who are helping Indian seniors to age gracefully in Australia.

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