Taking Root at the Y

My Y Story: Raj Jain Ceremony

Raj Jain CeremonyIn Honor of Raj Jain

By: Christopher O’Herren, a Champlain College student who is completing an internship with the Y. 

We often take for granted the significance of plants. No, this article isn’t about conservation or how plants are needed to make the oxygen we breathe (even though that is important). Instead, it is about the plants we live nearby and how they impact us. Perhaps you tend and care for a particular flower patch in your backyard, or maybe you drive a little slower around a tree you pass by when you return home from work. Plants can hold subtle meanings in our lives that we sometimes don’t recognize.

Take, for instance, the shrubbery at the front of the Merrimack YMCA. You’ll find it on your left before entering by the front of the building, with a little plaque dedicated to Raj Jain there. Raj Jain was a dedicated member of the Merrimack YMCA. She took classes from Tai Chi to Meditation and even ran some cooking classes there. Anyone who knew Raj knew her love for food. If you ever did Raj a kindness, you’d surely see her again with some of her own cooking as thanks. She was someone who made a positive impact on the community here at the Merrimack Y.

Unfortunately, Raj had been diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away last year. Anyone who keeps up with our blog may have already spotted the fact that we did a story about her passing just last February. However, not many may have known about the brief ceremony held for it. Her friends and family gathered to honor her life and the impact she had on them when she was alive. Her great-grandsons Ben and Andrew sang at the event, and Shalom Armendez, a friend of Raj’s, wrote and read a poem about how she lit up their lives.Raj Jain Ceremony

“She was just sunshine!” said longtime friend Corinne Hitt, reminiscing about Raj. Reminders of how she always wore the most colorful outfits and saved a spot for you in class, were shared in many of the discussions there. Corinne used to go to classes with Raj every Thursday for over 30 years, and when Raj passed, she told us: “My Thursday became way more empty.”

Raj Jain CeremonyBut the mood at this event was anything but somber. Instead, the small community of people gathered there and were happy to share their experience of having known her. So, many there knew that friendship was friendship through it all. That even though she is gone, she is far from lost. According to Raj’s oldest son, Rajesh, one of his mother’s more favored mottos was “Live and Let Live.” So, it was only natural that the participants got together and ate Indian food together after all was said and done.

The shrubbery was grown by a friend from a seedling. According to them, this specific type of plant will change its color every season. From a pinkish-purple flower that reflects the dress she used to love to wear to a bronze-like color in winter that will remind us of all the fabulous jewelry she liked to bring to class. And hopefully, this thoughtful and kind gift to the Merrimack YMCA will bring that same light to people who see it as she did.


This is our first follow up to a previous Wednesday Wonder Memories of Impact: A Tribute to a Special friend.  We plan on adding follow up stories throughout the year so our readers can continue to hear the journey of those impacted by the Y.


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